Families with time on their hands during the stay-at-home orders can make a small gesture that will mean a lot to Keck Medicine of USC staff treating COVID-19 patients.

Volunteers can create cards to thank health care providers who are staying in isolation at USC Hotel. USC Auxiliary Services will deliver the thank-you notes, connecting the Trojan community and potentially turning strangers into friends.

As of April 22, 166 guests have stayed at USC Hotel as part of the Care for the Caregiver program. It enables Keck Medicine providers to recuperate and rest away from home, keeping them from potentially spreading the disease to their families. Guests stay an average of eight to nine days at the hotel. But to stay healthy, they also risk feeling lonely.

Now volunteers can thank these medical heroes with the stroke of a pen through an effort dubbed Cards for the Caregivers. Rene Pak, chief of staff for USC President Carol L. Folt, PhD, came up with the idea when she noticed something that many parents can relate to: Her children had a lot of free time. Pak’s daughters Blake, 17, and Skyler, 18, painted cards for the health care professionals, and the family sent them to the hotel with the help of Dan Stimmler, vice president of USC Auxiliary Services, and Dirk De Jong, MBA, executive director of USC Hospitality and USC Hotel.

The idea is catching on, and now anyone can send cards to caregivers at USC Hotel. De Jong’s team will distribute them to guests. Those interested in participating can mail the cards to the following address:

USC Hotel
Attn.: Dirk De Jong
3540 S. Figueroa St.
Los Angeles, CA 90007

Experts believe there is little risk of contracting the virus through the mail, since the virus is unlikely to stay activated on paper for long. Those who still might be worried can follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for infection prevention, including frequent hand-washing and avoiding touching one’s face.

— Alicia Di Rado