The leadership team at Harry S. Truman Memorial Veterans’ Hospital donned a different kind of uniform Monday morning.

At 7 a.m. it was still quiet outside the facility, but the swishing of plastic was audible.

Two T-rexes, an alien, a unicorn and Wonder Woman emerged from a side door. Patricia Hall, Robert Ritter, Lana Zerrer, Stephanie Absher and Heather Brown were all comedically shuffling to their stations, getting ready to greet incoming staff.

“We saw some other hospitals doing this for their employees, and we wanted to do something even more special,” said Brown, the hospital’s strategic partnership officer. “Just to kind of start their day off right and make it kind of fun and exciting.”

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Brown developed and coordinated the event. She pointed Hall, dressed as a pink unicorn, towards her post.

By the time shift change rolled around at 7:30 a.m. the group was yelling enthusiastic greetings to incoming workers.

“It really is a way to thank our employees and give them a little humor in the morning as we start another week during COVID-19,” said Zerrer, Truman VA’s chief of staff, dressed as Wonder Woman. “It’s been a little stressful for everybody.”

It’s been almost a month since hospitals across Columbia canceled elective and non-emergent procedures, leaving many hospital workers on edge. So far Boone County has 93 positive cases of the illness.

Although the county’s low caseload has spared local hospitals from the kind of chaos seen in larger cities like New York City and New Orleans, it has left hospitals relatively empty compared to regular operations. With few visitors and empty halls, some health care workers have reported feeling anxious, wondering when or if Boone County could see a spike in cases.

“The uncertainty that we as a nation face, combined with the rapid and sustained changes to how we deliver care, can be stressful,” spokesman Jeffrey Hoelscher said in a statement. “Each day that we as a community protect and care for each other puts us one step closer to weathering this storm.”

Monday, care came in the form of a pink unicorn holding a sign that wished people a “rainbows and unicorns kind of day.”

“We’re doing this just to bring some joy into our staff members’ hearts,” Hall said.

Some staffers stopped to take pictures of the leadership team in costume. Others simply exchanged smiles and waves as they filed into the building.

A staff member shouted thanks. Brown, dressed as an alien, retorted that it’s them, the frontline workers, who should be thanked.

“Today was our small way of saying ‘thank you’ to a team that comes to work every day not knowing what they will be called upon to face,” Hoelscher said. “And hopefully we gave them a smile.”

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