WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — In a packed parking lot, employees from every department at United Regional Hospital were being treated like rockstars.

Tuesday and Wednesday, United Regional held parking lot parties from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. for day shift workers. Night shift workers were treated to an indoor celebration both nights from 10 to 11 p.m.

“Words can’t describe how I feel about this team,” United Regional CEO Phyllis Cowling said. “What they’ve been through over the last two years has just been phenomenal, and what they’ve done to take care of our community – and quite frankly, of each other – is just – it’s beyond description, so this team, they mean the world to me.”

The Hospital Week Celebration full of food, games, lip-sync battles and camaraderie is a sign of the times.

“Our employees – you can just see the light coming back, the spark coming back, and when we round and give them the opportunity to spend this time together, we get feedback from all of them that just shows how much they appreciate the opportunity to get back to what United Regional does, which is just take great care of our patients, take great care of our employees and really just be together,” United Regional Interim H.I.M. Manager and CDI Coordinator Mark Wright said.

Flyer for United Regional’s Hospital Week celebrations

“I’ve been waiting for this, well for 3 years,” Cowling said. “This is a big deal for this organization; Hospital Week we celebrate like no other hospital I’ve been in. This moment is worth waiting for.”

Cowling and Wright said the hospital recently reached another moment worth waiting for, also.

“We finally hit 0 Covid in-patients last week, so we celebrated that,” Wright said.

“I actually did the calculation, it had been 686 days since we had had no Covid patients in-house, and recognizing the impact that had – not just on our hospital, but in our community, in our world – it was a moment of relief and just kind of gratitude for getting to that point again,” Cowling said.

It’s a point in this pandemic that’s taken a strong team to reach.

“The last two years have tested us, no question, but at every moment, this team behind me rose to the occasion,” Cowling said. “It’s not just that they’re competent in what they do – because they are; the level of care that they provide is excellent – but moreover, the level of caring that they provide is beyond description as well. It’s that combination that makes this team and this organization so incredibly special.”

“We want to provide excellent care for the community that we serve,” Wright said. “We want them to come see us when they need help, but we also want them to know we care about them also when they don’t need help. We do a lot of outreach opportunities; we really just want to be the pinnacle of healthcare for WF and the surrounding communities, and we want them to know that we’re here for them in their time of need, for whatever that may be.”

With incredibly straining jobs, these few hours in this parking lot, together for Hospital Week, is a chance to recharge.

“It means so much to be able to come out and feel like you just get to spend time with all of your coworkers,” Wright said. “We don’t get away from our actual job responsibilities often enough to spend time with each other, so we always look forward to it.”

Wright and Cowling hope the community will take a moment to appreciate our frontline healthcare workers.

“Just say thank you, just let them know that you appreciate what they’ve done, what they’re doing and what they’re going to do in the future,” Cowling said.

United Regional also held a 5K Fun Run/Walk at the Hamilton Park Pavilion early Thursday morning for employees and their families.

Friday morning is the 21st Annual Shooter Classic all-employee golf tournament at River Creek Golf Course.