At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, many offices closed – giving people the option to work safely from home. But not everyone had that luxury. As health care workers cared for COVID patients on the front lines, they also juggled school closures and virtual learning, childcare and other challenges.

“It was very much a very challenging time, but our team members kept showing up to work. I am in awe of the strength and commitment they've demonstrated," said Denise Mihal, Novant Health executive vice president and clinical operations officer.

Jordyn Wrenn, a clinical supervisor at Novant Health Cotswold Medical Clinic, was "exhausted" when Healthy Headlines spoke to her in early 2020. And the pressure only increased when her husband had to shut down his business temporarily.

“It was really hard for him,” Wrenn said. “And I think anyone who manages people was worried about their team. I had to cut people's hours and my husband had to let some employees go. We all want to make sure our employees are taken care of, so naturally everyone was worried."

To help those in similar situations, Novant Health and Novant Health Foundation created a Hope for Remarkable Team Member Aubergine Fund. Money raised was dispersed to in-need health care workers across the system.

“Novant Health's business is the care of all people and that starts with our team members,” said Carl Armato, president and chief executive officer of Novant Health.

The Wrenn family poses for a picture.
The Wrenn family poses for a picture.

‘We’re seeing the emotional toll’

Wrenn’s story is one of many.

“We saw the emotional toll on our team members hit pretty hard,” said Daria Kring, senior director for clinical education and patient education.

Some families helped children navigate virtual learning and how to wear a mask for the first time. Others worried about the health of elderly family members or had financial stressors.

"Some team members worked fewer hours and didn't receive their full paycheck, or maybe their partner lost a job," Kring said.

Hope for Remarkable Team Member Aubergine Fund

Team members and community partners demonstrated their support by donating money to the Hope for Remarkable Team Member Aubergine Fund. Novant Health contributed an additional $10 million.

Thanks to compassion and generous gifts, the fund provided critical relief to 12,704 team members – nearly half of Novant Health's workforce. Money raised helped cover basic necessities like groceries and transportation, childcare needs, rent and housing expenses, as well as utility bills.

In total, more than 21,400 requests for assistance were answered, and hope was provided through financial support totaling $11.63 million.

"Our health care professionals are suiting up every day ready for battle, rising up as heroes to serve our communities in their time of greatest need. We at Novant Health are humbled by the outpouring of support during these challenging times," said Ann Caulkins, president of Novant Health Foundation. Read her comments in their entirety here.

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