Healthcare workers walk up to the SoCo Barbecue food truck and get their baked potato lunch and drink.

Healthcare workers at Highlands Medical Center were treated to a free lunch on Tuesday. In the parking lot of the hospital, healthcare workers could get a free baked potato lunch from a SoCo Barbecue food truck, get a drink, then head to some tables where workers could sign their names and get a free koozie with two Mr. Potato Head mascots they could take pictures with. It was a “spudtacular” event that takes place during what Highlands is calling “Healthcare week”.

“We’re ending National Nurses week today, it’s also National Hospital week and it’s also National Nursing Home week so we here at the Jackson County Healthcare Authority like to call this week Healthcare Week and celebrate our entire team,” said Director of Marketing for Highlands Medical Center Wendi Raeuchle.

Healthcare workers have been widely recognized and appreciated throughout the year for their help in combatting the COVID-19 pandemic and people at Heartlite Hospice thought an event like this could help continue to show that appreciation.

“What we decided to do was partner with the hospital to be able to provide 500 baked potatoes, so we’re calling it a ‘spudtacular’ event,” said Heartlite Hospice Administrator Terri Matthews. “We’ve invited anyone who’s affiliated with the hospital to come and get their baked potatoes. We have an assembly line, they’ve got drinks, baked potatoes, we have a photo op [with Mr. Potato Head] and they get a koozie with their drink, so just a full meal with them today.”

Along with this, Highlands Medical Center has a slew of other events to celebrate their workers during Healthcare Week.

“Anything that we can do or the community can do to keep healthcare workers’ spirits high goes a long way. They’re here because they care about people and want to help people but it’s been a long year, it’s been a hard year. We’re always weary of wearing masks and the ones who are treating patients dressing up in their PPE and it takes its toll,” said Raeuchle. “Things like this, no matter how big or how small, make a big difference. It helps them keep going for one or two more days, they’re excited about it and talk about it for a while so opportunities like this are always great and we welcome them and try to do them here ourselves as well because we love our team as much as anybody loves our team. With the potatoes dancing and the music, for a little while the staff can come out here and try to forget about everything that goes on inside those four walls and have a mental break for a few minutes and go back and feel nice and appreciated.”

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