Gather around, dearly beloved long-term care people. Let’s have a little talk. I’m looking at all of you, in every facility role — the whole heroic and beautiful group. We’ll meet in the parking lot, where it’s safe, and I’ll climb up on this rickety med cart, so you can hear me better. 

Let’s start with the obvious — that this pandemic has been indescribably surreal and hard for each of you. Ten months from the start, COVID-19 continues its deadly rampage. The gauntlet you’re running probably seems endless, and you’re rightfully beyond exhausted and overwhelmed. 

It can’t help that all around you are other people relaxing, being less vigilant, even giving up on basic safety measures. But given the lives you protect, both residents and colleagues, that’s simply not an option for you. 

Behind all that personal protective equipment, it’s hard to tell how you’re really feeling and coping, but your masks and face shields probably obscure an untold story of personal anxiety and fear. Maybe you’re also caring for a high-risk parent, have an unemployed spouse or are weathering the challenges of kids and school. The stresses and expectations are enormous, and the stakes never higher. 

But now that actual good news is emerging about potential vaccines and therapeutics, we have something that’s been in short supply: hope. A glimmer of light. A bright spot at the end of the tunnel that maybe isn’t a train.

In case you missed it, in November, drugmaker Pfizer and its partner BioNTech disclosed that a leading vaccine candidate has been shown to be 90% effective. Then, a few days later, Moderna announced that its vaccine candidate performed with 94.5% efficacy in clinical trials and can be stored easily. 

So please hang on just a little longer. 

And when the next month or even minute still seems insurmountable, pause to remember the importance of what you do. Have you ever experienced being completely alone and vulnerable? Then you know how it feels to be seen and loved by someone who cares, whom you can absolutely trust. That’s the gift you’re delivering in every act, every day. 

No, it’s not going to be easy, but you can do this. Hope is here, and help is on the way.