This year, more so than in the past, is one that dictates recognizing the work and dedication of health care workers.

Greg Gerard, president of Baptist Health Richmond, is hoping to do just that with an annual event done a little differently.

Each year, BHR holds a banquet at Eastern Kentucky University where staff, alongside their families, are recognized by their years of service in increments of five, 10, 15, and 20-plus years.

"We typically would recognize each employee and give them some sort of gift or award," Gerard explained. "It is normally a night for us to have food, fellowship, and fun."

This year, with no banquet, hospital officials still wanted to do something creative to acknowledge the work of their staff with a drive-thru celebration.

A plan was devised for Thursday evening where employees will come to the hospital campus and see their name on a sign as they drive-thru.

They also will be recognized with their award.

One hundred and sixty-five awards are planned to be given out.

Additionally, once they have been recognized, families and employees are able to drive-thru again and stop at one of several food trucks -- The Chuck Wagon, Kona Ice and House of 'Cue -- for a dinner.

"This is something to continue to recognize our heroes and the work they are doing even with COVID, and trying to have fun," he said.

According to Gerard, this year's event still holds some form of the tradition -- and more importantly -- a way to make sure employees are appreciated during this time.

"This can bring entertainment and happiness into their week and again, just show them the love," he said. "That is what this is about.

"It is more important this year than any year," he said. "We could have said we didn't have to do it because we couldn't do the banquet, but we had to be better than that, and the times really dictate that."

In lieu of their door prizes, the hospital also purchased almost $3,000 worth of gift cards to local businesses and restaurants.

Gerard said this was not only to show thanks to their employees, but to give back to the businesses who have helped BHR in their time of need.

"It is just another little way to say, 'Thank you,'" he said.

The drive-thru ceremony will begin Thursday evening at 6 p.m. at Baptist Health Richmond.

Reach Taylor Six at 624-6695 or follow her on Twitter at @TaylorSixRR.

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