WINDSOR, ONT -- A local online support group was created to share stories from the front-line.

In a second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, Windsor-Essex health care workers say the group is very much needed.

“I was exhausted, mentally, physically, emotionally, especially over the holidays,” says medical lab technician, Tanya Hughes.

“When I walk through long-term care facilities, they’re working extremely hard, they’re tired. They’re putting their families last and putting the patients first.”

As a medical lab technician at long-term care facilities across Windsor-Essex, Hughes wanted a positive forum to interact with other local health care workers on social media.

“When we come home from work and we go on social media, it’s been so negative. That it’s been hard on us. We shouldn’t have to go home and argue and defend ourselves to the public and the community.“

Hughes started an online group for Windsor health care workers to offer support and share stories.

“I created it for us to lean on one another, so we can reach out to one another if we are having difficulties. We needed someone to talk to. So, we have somewhere to turn to because we all know what we are going through.”

In less than a week, the ‘Windsor Frontline Health Care Workers’ Facebook group has more than five thousand members.

“I did not expect for it to turn out to be this big as what it’s grown into. This is absolutely fabulous. I love that everyone is sharing and uploading some positivity. It’s really given us that push and pick up that we needed.”

Other health care workers, like long-term dietary aid and cook, Cait Desmarais, assists with moderating the group.

“It was so unexpected. We thought it was just going to be a small group of friends. A little spot for us to vent then more people started joining then more and more. Every time I look at my phone, fifty more want to join the group. It’s nonstop,” says Desmarais.

Group administrators say they are overwhelmed the group became a positive outlet for so many.

“I think mental health is probably one of the most important things that’s being overlooked right now. We are all just trying to make sure that we can get our jobs done at the end of the day and nobody is thinking about themselves right now,” says Desmarais.

“We are doing everything we can to get the city back on its feet and leaning on one another and be there for each other would definitely be great for mental health reasons,” Hughes adds “We need somewhere to go and be positive and show that we are not alone in this. It turned into something I never imagine.”

Right now more than ever, Hughes is asking the community to support health care workers.

“We are in this together and if we keep sticking it out, working together and being there for one another; 2021 can be the year of healing,” says Hughes.