MEDFORD, Ore — Rachel Ridge is a hairdresser at Salon 7 in Medford, she said many of the salon's clients are healthcare workers and she's been noticing how worn out they've seemed amid the latest surge in COVID-19 cases.
"They rarely get lunch breaks because they are understaffed, they are overwhelmed at the hospitals," she said during an interview at the salon on Wednesday.
One particular client, who she has been seeing for close to a decade gave her the idea to help.
Ridge said she agreed to see the ICU nurse for a hair appointment at 6 am because that was the only time her client could come in.
"She is usually pretty cool and calm and collected but she was definitely tired," Ridge said noting that her client dozed off as she was doing her hair. "She came in at 6 in the morning after her shift to do her hair so she could go home and go to bed and then do it all over again."
Ridge said she decided to ask her client what she could do to help.
"I was thinking I would start a meal train for her or pay for her and her family to go out to dinner," she said. Instead, Ridge said the ICU nurse thought of her coworkers.
"She just is caring anyway and worries about everybody else," she explained. "She did not think of herself when I asked (to help) she went right to saying 'my co-workers need help.'"
Ridge said the rest of the day the salon saw another couple of healthcare workers and she kept posing the question until one woman whose daughter-in-law is an ICU nurse suggested preparing easy-to-carry snacks since lunch breaks are rare for healthcare workers these days.
"Fruit snacks, protein bars, granola bars, things that they can slide into their pocket and it's easy," Ridge explained.
She put a post up on Facebook asking for financial help to pay for the items or donations of small snacks. She says the amount of support she got was overwhelming.
"My friends, my clients, strangers, there is a church that would like to help out," she said. Ridge said she has collected $500 so far. She has purchased a good amount of supplies that Asante and Providence have agreed to distribute in their ICUs, ERs, COVID floors, and x-ray areas.
She plans to continue the effort until the hospitals tell her they have had enough.
She said they are also collecting thank you cards and messages of encouragement made by children. She noted that while at the beginning of the pandemic many people made it a point to thank healthcare workers, that energy has sort of tapered off.
Ridge said healthcare workers need encouragement now more than ever as they are overwhelmed with COVID patients.
She has been using social media outlets to spread the word and encourage others to do the same in other areas.
"In a world of negativity I was kind of bummed out and this really made me feel better honestly because there is no divide here it's helping people that are saving our families," she said.
If you are interested in donating you can bring money or supplies to Ridge at Salon 7.