Ardmore community prays for healthcare workers, remembers lives lost to COVID-19
Community members across Ardmore and across the nation joined in moments of unity this week to honor frontline workers, patients and those who have lost lives to COVID-19.
The demonstrations of unity and remembrance came following a grave death toll, with COVID-19 now having claimed more than 400,000 lives nationally and over 3,000 statewide.
As 400 lights were lit around the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool in Washington D.C. on Tuesday, others across the country illuminated their buildings to memorialize the lives lost, some also ringing church bells.
The Ardmore Chamber of Commerce joined the Chickasaw Nation in participation. “We are joining with Chickasaws, Oklahomans and Americans across the nation to remember lives lost, honor front line workers and grieve with those who have lost loved ones,” said Chickasaw Nation Governor Bill Anoatubby in a press release. “Taking part in this national memorial event reminds us that we must come together locally and nationally to contain the virus and keep our family, friends and neighbors safe.”
Active cases remain in the thousands statewide, with many still battling the virus in local hospitals. In an effort to show healthcare workers and patients support, a local nonprofit called on the community to join them for a night of prayer at the Mercy Hospital in Ardmore on Thursday.
Individuals gathered at the south entrance, where Equip Life Church led the prayer and the headlights of vehicles illuminated the building. Many lifted their hands in the air as they sung along to worship songs and nurses gathered to watch, with a shadow looking down from a window above.
“Our neighbors are laying in these beds, they have families that are at home waiting for them to walk back through those doors,” said Impact Ardmore Executive Director Misty Apala. “So what we’re doing tonight is so much bigger than just standing here and worshiping together.”
It’s important to remember everyone who walks in and out of the hospital, Apala said. The nurses, doctors, surgeons and even the individuals who sweep the floors or push carts to patients' rooms. “And probably so many more that we haven’t touched on that make this place go 'round 24-hours a day,” Apala said.
The head of Mercy Hospital in Ardmore, Daryle Voss, asked the group to sing one last song as the gathering neared it's end. The song, Amazing Grace, “is a powerful testament of what this hospital stands for,” he told the group.
The group swayed together as Equip Life Church Pastor Noah Morse's voice rang across the parking lot. Morse said he hopes that the gathering gave some hope in a time of uncertainty and loss.
“We just want to speak hope into the community because right now all of these nurses at the hospital are working very diligently, very hard and we just want to let them know that we see them and we hear them and we’re praying with them,” Morse said. “We just want to see hope.”
In closing, the Carter County Sheriff’s Department led the community members in a circle around the hospital. Some followed in their vehicles, flashing their lights and honking their horns, while others walked around the hospital.
Each individual was asked to pray over the hospital while doing so, pausing to hold those in the emergency room in their prayers. “Where two or more are gathered, then he says there I am and I think we need that more than anything right now,” Apala said. “Ardmore is a strong community and I think that shows in times like this.”