BIG SKY – In soft pre-dusk light on Oct. 18, more than 60 community members encircled the Big Sky Medical Center, their arms outstretched and the corners of their smiles peeking out above the top of their face masks. Organized by Lone Peak High School junior Jessie Bough, this string of people donning red and holding pictures of hearts was a symbolic hug for local healthcare staff, a big thank you to the frontline workers who have battled the COVID-19 pandemic face-to-face for 18 months.
“I just have been realizing that COVID-19 is … still pretty bad,” Bough said after the hug disbanded. “I’ve been going back to my normal life. I get to play volleyball, I get to go to school. But the healthcare workers are still very stressed, they’re still dealing with this every day, and I just want to show appreciation to our healthcare workers, especially the Big Sky Medical Center.”
During the symbolic hug, a handful of medical center staff stepped outside to watch and wave. Despite the distance that stood between them and the community, their expressions indicated that they had been touched in some way nonetheless.