Ascension Seton hospitals now have new way to help its employees, many of whom are treating COVID-19 patients here in Austin.


In addition to many meals that local restaurants and community members have donated, the hospitals started mini grocery stores for employees. The first one started at Dell Seton Medical Center at the University of Texas, but Ascension Seton has rolled them out in all its Ascension Texas sites and provided information on how to start these stores at the Ascension hospitals in all 20 states.


The hospitals buy food staples such as rice, pasta, cheese, flour, sugar, eggs, milk, marinara sauce, pizzas and toilet paper and then sell them to the staff at a reduced price. Only toilet paper is limited as far as how much an employee can buy at one time.


The hope is that staff can reduce the amount of time they spend standing in line at the grocery story as well as have access to the things they need for their families.


Ascension Seton also has a way the public can support hospital staff. The Encourage a Caregiver program allows people to send messages online to its staff. You also can read what other people have posted. Find the site at supportseton.org/thanks.


It’s also posted "Heroes Work Here" signs outside all its hospitals.


This week St. David’s HealthCare also launched a program for people to print and post signs of thanks to health care workers in their windows.