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Respiratory therapist provides food, support for teammates battling COVID-19

Louisiana native Mary Catherine Williams has served at Ascension Via Christi for 22 of her 32 years as a respiratory therapist.
While for the past year she mainly has cared for fragile infants in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Ascension Via Christi St. Joseph, she spent many years serving in the Medical Intensive Care Unit at Ascension Via Christi St. Francis.
When she saw a TV interview with Jenifer Phelps, nurse manager for the MICU-turned-COVID-19-ICU, she wanted to do something to help. So she baked an angel's food cake and delivered it to the unit and then made arrangements to have snacks delivered to the COVID-19 ICU and medical-surgical unit for as long as they need them.
"They're just working so hard and they're my friends," says Williams, whose voice began to crack as she shared that her 95-year-old mother, Catherine Bordelon, died of COVID-19 in April at the same Monroe, Louisiana, hospital where she began her career as a respiratory therapist.
"My mama had a good long life, but we just didn't think it would end so abruptly," says Williams, who took comfort in the loving care her mother received during her final days and the community support for her mother's care team.
Seeing Phelps talk about the growing number of patients with COVID-19 receiving care at St. Francis, she thought, "They're just working their behinds off to help patients like my mama."
She also worried that the initial community support for caregivers battling COVID-19 may be waning as weeks have turned into months with no end in sight.
"In the beginning, the community was all in," says Williams. "Now it seems like many people have forgotten, with people not doing what they need to do, like wearing their masks."
So she's reaching out with food and messages of support for her Ascension Via Christi family fighting the virus that claimed her mother's life.
"Everybody is important in what they're doing and I wanted to let them know and that I appreciate all that they are doing," says Williams, adding, "It always makes you feel good when there is a little snack."
Indeed it does, says Phelps. "The food is wonderful, but the love behind it is just as important or even more so."
Want to join Williams in supporting caregivers battling COVID-19 on the frontlines? Contact David Alexander, president of the Via Christi Foundation, at 316-281-5157 or
About Roz Hutchinson

Roz Hutchinson is a Wichita wife, mother and chief spoiler of six grandkids and three Chihuahuas, a die-hard women's basketball fan, and director of Communications and Public Relations for Ascension Via Christi.