Despite the new norm of social distancing, local residents are finding ways to come together and thank essential workers during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, especially those facing the disease as part of their everyday jobs.

Tammy Murphy of Latrobe, her family and friends will provide Progressive Care Unit (PCU) employees at Excela Health Latrobe Hospital with a Holy Thursday meal on April 9, in memory of their mother Rosemarie Tosh, who died in January after a long illness with inclusion body myositis (IBM). Two meals will be served for the daylight and nighttime PCU staff, from doctors and nurses to tech and respiratory partners.

Tosh underwent numerous hospitalizations at Excela Health Latrobe Hospital for the rare degenerative muscle disease, since she was diagnosed a decade ago, Murphy said.

During those stays, Tosh spent much time getting to know the same nurses on rotation around the Progressive Care Unit floors and shared all of the information she collected about IBM with medical staff.

Dolly Meighen, a longtime family friend, helped Murphy and her siblings care for their mother during her final year.

Murphy, her sister and their two brothers sent Meighen several Giant Eagle gift cards to thank her for her dedication.

Meighen came up with the idea of sponsoring a meal using those gift cards. Her late friend’s generosity inspired Meighen to pay it forward to the staff who once took care of Tosh and are now taking care of the rest of the community.

Murphy is coordinating the meal delivery with Latrobe Hospital staff under the visitor restrictions in place because of the COVID-19 epidemic.

PCU employees will get the chance to enjoy chicken, potato salad, baked macaroni and cheese, tossed salad, chips and cookies.

Meighen’s idea aligns with the generous spirit of her friend Rosemarie.

Tosh was an active community volunteer until her disease progressed, helping Laurel Area Faith in Action and delivering for Meals on Wheels. She enjoyed cooking and was a surrogate mom to her children’s friends, according to Murphy.

“This act of kindness and love for my mom, paying it forward to those working on the front line, is the kind of love that she was known for,” Murphy said.

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