GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) – On Thursday, it was a celebration a year in the making. Gulfport Mayor Billy Hewes proclaimed March 11th as “Healthcare Heroes Day” one year since the first COVID-19 positive case was reported in Mississippi.

Mayor Hewes proclaimed March 11th as “Healthcare Heroes Day” in front of the staff he said helped save his father’s life in his battle against COVID.

“It has been an emotional journey,” said Kent Nicaud, Memorial CEO and President. “Understanding and knowing where people have come from, with the stress levels they have gone through, the loss of family and friends that they’ve experienced. And yet still coming to work every day.”

Like Brandi Ladner, manager of the respiratory therapy department.

“Those respiratory therapists, physicians, nurses techs that work in the hospital,” said Ladner. “They get up every day and work long hours. Honestly, there’s not enough thank you that we can say to those people who are in those trenches every day dealing with this disease and with our patients.”

Ladner said she’s learned some important things in this long battle.

“We’ve all kind of pitched in as a team and done jobs that are outside of our normal,” said Ladner. “Because at the end of the day, the patients come first.”

The key to get through?

“A lot of determination and grit to not just quit,” said Ladner.

Nicaud also added “I like to think that we try to appreciate our healthcare workers every day, but it’s nice to have a proclamation now saying it is their day.”

Also, as part of a sweet treat, management provided a sweet treat for the staff by Pop Brothers.

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