I am sure my sister, Denise Mitchell, has a lot of bad days she doesn’t want to talk about or can’t talk about. Drug overdoses. Gunshot wounds. Gruesome car wrecks. Loving grandmothers and babies dying before her very eyes. The list goes on. It takes a special person to work in the emergency room, and it’s something she has been doing for much of the four decades she has been in the nursing field.

I can’t imagine being a nurse or a doctor in the emergency room, a place where trauma and heartache are commonplace. “How was your day?” people ask us all the time. Sometimes, a nurse really doesn’t want to tell us how their day was.

Nursing all started for my sister in 1981 when she finished nursing school at St. Joseph Hospital School of Nursing in Memphis. She had a short-lived stint as a student at Ole Miss before that, but though she is smart as a whip, whatever it was she was studying – or perhaps not studying – it just wasn’t grabbing her interest.

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Enter nursing. After working as an RN for a few years, she went back to school and earned a Bachelor of Science in Nursing at the University of Missouri-Columbia in 1997. I was lucky enough to make it to both graduations, and the family was extremely proud that she found a career she truly loves.

You are lucky to spend a career doing something you not only love, but is such a service to the community. The same thing can be said for my other sister, Cathy, who retired a few years ago after a career as a Columbia police officer. And I guess in some ways a newspaperman like me qualifies, too, as we bring you news about the community and cover everything from championship football to COVID-19.

However, I can’t imagine squeamish me spending one day working in an emergency room, but I am glad there are a lot of people cut out for it. Especially now, as I watch on television as thousands of people around the world are dying of this virus, and people in the medical field – from emergency-room nurses to those who sweep the floors – are in the midst of it all literally risking their lives.

We held our breath the other day when a nurse who works closely with Denise was tested for COVID-19. Did she have it? Would my sister get it? We are faced with a lot of questions with potentially fearful answers these days. Luckily, the test was negative, but the threat lingers.

There are many professions that deserve our respect, and during this COVID-19 crisis, none of those professions are owed more of a debt of gratitude than the medical profession. Some communities are facing much more difficult and deadly times than others, but there is not a hospital, ambulance or temporary medical tent in the country immune from what’s going on.

I salute my sister and the millions of health-care personnel in the world who are facing this crisis head on while many of us stay home as much as possible, as we are told to do. You can’t social distance when a sick baby comes into the ER.

I don’t normally pitch one of our products in this column space at the risk of appearing to be self-serving, but I am going to today.

National Nurses Week is May 6-12, and a year ago we recognized nurses with a special section in the newspaper. We are doing so again this year, but instead of saluting only nurses, we want to show appreciation to all health-care professionals in the April 28 edition of The Salem News.

These are tough times for many small businesses in our community, and we are one of those small businesses struggling. We realize there are some businesses that cannot afford to be a part of this recognition, but we are hoping there are some who will help us recognize the people who make health care in our community what it is.

You don’t have to be a business to take part. Anyone who wants to help us recognize these heroes – friends, neighbors, moms, dads, cousins and children – can contact us by phone or email at the newspaper for more information. The deadline is Friday.

We want to recognize those in the health-care field, like my sister, Denise, who now more than ever deserve our appreciation.