PITTSBURG — In celebration of nurses week and health care week, Via Christi emergency room staff hosted their annual cookout.

The barbecue event ran from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday at the Via Christi ambulance bay.

“We invite not only first responders, but also the police, fire department, and any of the teams that work in our ER,” Nursing Director Dr. Naomi Powers said. “We do this to show our appreciation for what they do for our community and for our patients.”

Powers began this event six years ago alongside Emergency Medical Services Director Dr. Tim Stebbins.

“Dr. Stebbins is not only the EMS director, but also the medical director of the ER, so we have a close relationship with our first responders,” Powers said. “If there is anything we need to do, we have a connection with them.”

The nursing director said she did not want to leave anyone out of the event, given that this week is both nurses week and health care week.

“We started this because we wanted to include them in the appreciation and we have had things with nurses all week, whether it’s getting them sundaes or passing out apple slices,” she said. “Tomorrow we are having a food truck brought out here so they can get lunch, so we just thought it would be nice to network with the community.”

Stebbins discussed the emergency response team’s hard work.

“You know, the challenges in emergency services are great in that there’s a variety of things that can happen and they work hard to support the community and us in the ER, so we just want to say thank you for all of that,” the EMS director said. “It’s challenging, it’s hard, you can have a lot of bad days and what this gives is everybody a time to get together and just have a good day — no risk, just sit back, unwind, and be a part of each other’s company when we are not trying to save somebody’s life.”

 — Brandon Schmitz is a staff writer for the Morning Sun. He can be reached at bschmitz@morningsun.net.