by Travis Naughton

“Not all heroes wear capes.”

This statement makes its rounds on social media and on t-shirts quite regularly. It has been used to describe teachers, first responders, foster parents, service members, and many other groups of people who are, without a doubt, heroes. However, the statement, as it is written, is flawed.  

Batman, Robin, and other caped crusaders of comic book lore are not real. They are fictional characters with no powers, super or otherwise. When stuff hits the fan, don’t count on Superman or any other “hero” in a cape to save you.

A more accurate and meaningful expression would be, “Heroes don’t wear capes.” Real people who make real sacrifices for the benefit of their fellow human beings should never have to share the title “hero” with a character in a movie. 

Heroes in law enforcement wear blue uniforms. Heroes in fire protection wear turn-out gear. Heroes in the military wear fatigues. Heroes in education wear jeans on Fridays. (Thanks, Mrs. Clark!) 

Real heroes don’t wear capes. 

Some heroes wear scrubs. Here in mid-Missouri, we are lucky to be looked-after by thousands of scrub-wearing superheroes. Doctors, nurses, therapists, social workers, medical technicians, CNAs, PAs, lab techs, phlebotomists, dentists, hygienists, and many other professionals perform heroic work in hospitals and clinics year-round. Now, in the age of COVID-19, these heroes are putting their lives at risk every single time they come to work.

My wife Bethany is an occupational therapist who has climbed the medical leadership ladder to the level of Director of Clinics for MU Health Care. As an administrator responsible for the day-to-day operation of over 20 clinics, Bethany wears business attire to work most days. Last Sunday, however, she put on her superhero scrubs and went to work, (on her day off), making sure that all 60 of MU Health Care’s clinics had the necessary equipment to properly handle an influx of patients potentially infected with the novel coronavirus that has brought much of the world to a standstill.

Bethany has been working 12-hour days since the virus found its way to Missouri. Though she doesn’t work as a therapist anymore, she does spend much of her time in patient treatment areas and waiting rooms. She has dedicated herself to ensuring that those spaces are safe for patients and medical personnel alike. She is directly engaged in the battle against this deadly pandemic. 

Bethany Naughton is a hero. So are her co-directors who are working as tirelessly as she is.

One of the most exciting challenges Bethany has taken on is spearheading the rollout of telemedicine services within the clinic system. Patients can now use video technology to meet with their doctors in order to minimize face-to-face contact and prevent the potential spread of the coronavirus and other pathogens such as influenza. 

There are many other healthcare heroes who call Southern Boone County home. One of them is Tiffany Nash. Tiffany is one of Bethany’s officemates and a fellow Ashland resident. (She once made my wife kiss a goat, so naturally she is one of my favorite people in the whole wide world.) Tiffany is the Ambulatory Care Development Specialist for MU Health Care. She helped set up the university’s COVID-19 drive-through testing center and is in charge of coordinating staffing for the site. She has been there every day since it opened, on the literal front line of the battle. Tiffany Nash is a hero.

The Ashland area is home to medical professionals who work at University Hospital, Missouri Orthopaedic Institute, Women’s and Children’s Hospital, Truman VA Hospital, Boone Hospital, Capital Region Medical Center, and various other medical facilities throughout mid-Missouri. These fine folks have dedicated their lives, pandemic or not, to helping their fellow man. They know that by coming to work each day, they are putting themselves and their families at risk. But they do the job anyway. Southern Boone is the home of heroes. Real heroes. Heroes who wear scrubs.