A year off meant a year to make sure we came back stronger, bigger, and more appreciative than ever. The tradition of Employee Appreciation Day (EAD) began 15 years ago, but for a variety of reasons–floods, economic downturns, and, yes, a global pandemic–the Department of Internal Medicine has not held its celebration each one of those 15 years. So in the spring when the vaccines gave the appearance that we were nearing the end of this tunnel and could gather as one big department, planning for a return to this year’s event began in earnest.
Deciding on a theme of “Strength in Diversity,” the planning committee commissioned an update to a map from 2007 detailing the countries of origin of its members. As E. Dale Abel, MD, PhD, said in his pre-EAD post, more than 20 countries had to be added to bring it current. “It is easy,” he wrote, “to take this degree of diversity for granted when we work within it every day, but we must recognize that it is not common.”
That map was printed and hung in each division to display alongside a morning kickoff of pastries and coffee. Each division was encouraged to add their own flavor and use the refreshments as a start to a day-long celebration.
An additional consideration of this year’s planning committee was making sure that our faculty and staff serving at the UI Health Care Iowa River Landing also got to participate. Our thanks to Kim Beattie for sending us these photos of the IRL lunch.
Lunch back on the main campus was also an innovative approach that adapted to the rising positive cases of COVID-19 in our community. Individually prepared lunches from six different local restaurants were available for members to pick up and eat on their own or outside. Our thanks to Andale Andale, Her Soup Kitchen, Maestro Empanadas, Szechuan House, D. P. Dough, and Oasis, for their ability to accommodate so many people across such a large window of time.
Some of the timing may not have been precise, but that just allowed everyone time to chat and catch up while they waited for their meal of choice. After a year and more of no or very few gatherings of any kind some people were seeing each other for the first time in person in a long time. Over the course of a few hours, as the nearly 500 members who RSVP’d made their way through MERF Atrium, some remarked that despite the size of the department a feeling of community was easy to achieve. Though everyone was masked, the smiles could still be sensed.
Thank you to the members of this year’s planning committee. Your diligence and foresight made this day an overwhelming success!
As Dr. Abel also said in Friday’s message, “We are Iowa.”