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13 WTHR Indianapolis | Indianapolis Local News & Weather

Hundreds gather outside Avon's IU West Hospital in support of patients, employees

They were apart, but together.

AVON, Ind. (WTHR) - They were apart, but together.

Hundreds of people sat in their cars outside IU West Hospital Thursday evening, headlights on and honking horns.

“We’re not allowed to be around each other, but we’re closer than ever. It’s just a really great thing to see,” Avon resident Amber Keller said, who organized the gathering.

It was a prayer vigil for the people sick inside the hospital and those trying to make them better.

“This is a hard time to be a patient. Imagine being in a hospital when, for safety reasons, your friends and family can’t come to visit you like they normally would,” said Lisa Sparks, chief nursing officer with IU Health.

Instead, this is what support looks like in the time of COVID-19, vehicles parked with empty spaces between them, occupants waving at each other from windows but staying separate. All of them clapping and cheering for the hospital employees who walked to their vehicles after a long shift.

“This is a really big demonstration of community support and how much people care about us and that we’re not alone in this and that there are lots of people thinking of us and supporting us as we take care of our patients and stay committed to our profession of caring,” Sparks said.

The vigil hasn’t been the only way the community has shown its support. IU West says people have ordered food and had it sent to the hospital, as well as sent notes on red hearts, which nurses have hung outside patients’ rooms in ICU.

“This is not a time that you’re alone — this is a time that we’re here for you. We appreciate you all so much,” Keller said.

“I don’t want anyone to underestimate the importance of a kind word or prayer or card or note. Those things are really important to the team as we stay every day committed to this work and to our patients,” Sparks said.

Just as important, say those on the front lines, is the public’s commitment to stay at home and take this pandemic seriously. Doing so, they say, will flatten the curve and save lives, maybe even your own or that of someone you love.