ROANOKE, Va. – After losing her husband to suicide due to the toll the pandemic took on healthcare workers, Alicia McAllister-Daniels is focusing her life on ways to help others who struggle with mental health issues. Because of that, the American Red Cross considers her to be a local hero.
McAllister-Daniels is a long-time member of Carilion Children’s Hospital, having served as a NICU nurse and director who managed the development of the new Carilion Children’s Tanglewood Center. Now she’s a manager of 180 nurses and health care workers at the hospital.
According to a study done by the National Institute of Health in 2020, findings revealed the growing crisis around health care workers’ mental health issues connected to the pandemic.
It goes on to say, “The pandemic has unleashed a mental health crisis marked by anxiety, depression, PTSD, and even suicide.”
Sadly, McAllister-Daniels’s husband, Alva Daniels, was no exception to that statistic.
Alva Daniels, a dedicated respiratory therapist, worked tirelessly on the frontline, which became his everyday, taking a major toll on his mental health, despite his and others’ efforts to address his needs.
Ultimately, he took his life in August 2021, but to this day, he is still impacting many through his wife’s strength and endurance.
Four months after her husband’s death, McAllister-Daniels took her mission, of honoring her husband’s legacy and raising awareness of the burden that many on the frontline carry, to the Washington Post.
She wrote an article about her husband’s struggles, sharing a message to more than 600 Carilion colleagues prior to her Washington Post article.
“I decided to share his story with the hope of helping: Helping the public to understand the frontline experience and helping to put a spotlight on the critical mental health needs of healthcare workers,” she said. “Alva was a helper in life, and I think he would want me to use his story to help others in death.”
“She has dedicated her life to helping children in the community and today, she is bravely dedicating herself to helping others who struggle with mental health issues,” said the American Red Cross.
The American Red Cross is proud to award Alicia McAllister-Daniels as the 2022 Medical Hero.