Frontline workers’ COVID-19 stories shared through Alameda Health System’s Memory Archive.

The Alameda Health System (AHS) has released an archive of stories documenting the experiences of healthcare workers during the COVID-19 pandemic in the Bay Area. The archive contains a collection of short videos, audio recordings, and photo essays featuring nurses, administrators, telephone operators, pastors, and more. It provides an in-depth glimpse into what those on the frontlines of the county’s public healthcare system went through. While the pandemic is still ongoing, the development of vaccines, treatments, and other tools helped to reduce the harm caused by the virus.

AHS Media and Communications Manager, Eleanor Adjara, led the archive project with a team of five people. They collected memories and designed a web page for the archive. Adjara wanted to make sure the voices of those who risked their lives to save others were recorded as there was a mix of disinformation and good news in the news at the national level. She believed that the frontline workers’ life force was saving our communities.

The archive includes a first-hand account from ECG technician Anne Ho, who remembers how she felt when she first contracted COVID-19 at work. It also features Resident Physician Ajit Singh, who spoke about losing a patient to COVID-19. She was caring for a young man who was relatively healthy, but the virus hit his respiratory system so hard he had to be kept on a ventilator to breathe. Despite their best efforts, they could not save him.

James Jackson, CEO of AHS, wanted the memory archives to be a resource for the general public. He believes it is important to capture the frontline workers’ first-hand memories of COVID-19. The staff indicated that they felt hospital system leaders were not giving them the resources they needed to ensure the safety of healthcare workers and treat patients. Although these disagreements have not been fully resolved, Jackson is optimistic that the organization is on track to regain trust with staff. The recent launch of a campaign of transparency was aimed at giving people a voice and ensuring that people on the front-line understand what the organization is doing. This, he believes, is what the organization has been doing for the past two and a half years.

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