Medical assistant Brittany Lacey was screening patients for COVID-19 symptoms as they entered Tidelands Health Family Medicine at Holmestown Road when it caught her eye.
A patient was wearing a mermaid bracelet that resonated with Brittany, who loves the mythical creatures. Brittany complimented the patient on the jewelry, sparking a conversation that led into the topic that’s been on everyone’s mind: COVID-19.
The patient expressed how nervous the virus makes her. Brittany talked about her responsibility as a health care professional to take care of the community and keep people healthy, even as she sometimes worries about this new virus making its way home to her 2-year-old son and parents despite all the precautions she takes.
As the patient was called back for her appointment, Brittany went on with her day, continuing to check temperatures and screen all those walking into the office.
An unexpected gift
After a short time, the patient reappeared at Brittany’s station, unlatched the mermaid bracelet and placed it in the nurse’s gloved hand with a message that went something like this: “You make such a big sacrifice every day for perfect strangers. If this is something that makes you happy and that you like so much, it’s the least I can do to say thank you for your service.”
“I was floored,” Brittany says. “I would have bawled my eyes out if I had been alone. It was hard not to. There was a little welling up there. That simple, simple gesture was probably one of the coolest things anyone has ever done for me.”
When Brittany closed the bracelet’s clasp, fitting snugly around her wrist, she held out her arm, “Awww – it’s perfect. It was meant to fit.”
The gesture was just what Brittany needed going into our region’s fifth month battling the COVID-19 pandemic. Cases and hospitalizations are surging.
Like other health care professionals at Tidelands Health, Brittany has sacrificed over the past few months to provide needed health care to community members. She’s served as a Safe Care Navigator taking temperatures and screening patients before they enter the office on Holmestown Road. She’s registered symptomatic patients getting a COVID-19 test at the office’s appointment-only drive-up clinic and worked massive community drive-through testing events, where as many as 2,500 people are tested for COVID-19 in a day. She never expects anything in return.
“For her to hand something special to me – a perfect stranger, we talked for less than 10 minutes – was a huge thing for me,” Brittany said. “A simple thank you is all it takes to make a front-liner’s day.”
An outpouring of support
Later that evening, still feeling that overwhelming sense of appreciation for the simple gesture, Brittany took to Facebook to share the special moment. She posted it on her profile and in the popular group, SURFSIDIANS Surfside Beach, SC, where the New Jersey transplant occasionally seeks local information and advice.
In just a few hours, the heartfelt post had received lots of love from the group, including 720 likes, loves and cares and more than 80 comments (many punctuated with red hearts). Brittany’s phone was blowing up with the notifications, and each one brought even more happiness.
• “Wow. This made me cry! There are some pretty amazing people there.”
• “You will always cherish that bracelet! Faith in kindness in these dark days. Thanks for sharing.”
• “Love hearing stories like this. Thank you to all our frontliners.”
• “These are the stories we need to hear to move us all in the right direction to healing our hearts in these trying times. Thank you so much for sharing and for being on the frontlines for all of us. Please be safe.”
Even the patient who gave her the bracelet quietly slid into the comments with words as powerful as her simple gift to Brittany.
“Everyone needs to spend a moment to make some happiness in this world. It is not hard to do. Hope you enjoy it,” the patient wrote.
Brittany’s admiration for the bracelet started with her simple love of mermaids. Now, it means so much more, a special token of the kindness that still exists in the world and an appreciation for the sacrifices health care professionals make every day keeping the community healthy.
“This hasn’t come off,” Brittany said Thursday, gently rubbing the silver mermaid bracelet clasped tightly around her wrist, “and I don’t think it ever will.”