Local doctor caps a message for creativity during crisis


Last updated 5/6/2020 at 9:36am

Dr. Sam Hsieh with CMC Provider Coordinator Lani Morales wearing the caps Hsieh is giving out to his health care coworkers

We are all frontline workers, a local doctor says, and we need to be creative in our lives. 

Dr. Sam Hsieh, a general surgeon and chief of staff at Coulee Medical Center, has given out over 100 caps with a special Chinese character on the front within an imperfect frame and the word "#Frontline" on the back. 

Hsieh's goal is to give the caps, made by Sunflower Graphics in Grand Coulee, out to all the health care workers at CMC. 

The symbol, according to a letter Hsieh gives out with the caps, breaks down into two parts, "a boundless Chinese character 'Divine' breaking free from the boundaries encapsulating it," and "a framed structure representing guidance in creativity, but a frame not so perfectly squared as there is no one way to create."

In the letter, Hsieh challenges people to think outside the box.

"We live in a world where mass production and uniformity have become a commonplace," the letter reads. "Have we adopted this uniformity to allow us to remain the status quo? Will this governing mentality conform us to an uninspiring norm? What we need in times like these is not more of the same and not upholding this grey status quo - we need to be able to challenge and rethink our approach as a whole."

Hsieh created the logo in college 20 years ago, and elaborated on what it means in an email to The Star.

"In the formal sense," Hsieh wrote, "the Chinese character in the middle translates to 'divine', 'godly', 'heavenly', 'celestial'. But that's only half the story. If you look further, it resembles something spectacular; phenomenal even. Something, that at its core is breathtaking – something unique."

As a student, Hsieh said, he felt everything around him was "so 'cookie-cutter' style," even the band he was trying to start. A desire to be unique inspired the logo. 

"I realized the alchemy doesn't lie in following the footsteps of those that came before, but in laying down your own path, so as to leave a legacy that will truly be yours," Hseih wrote. "As I grew and matured, so did this logo. I learned that sometimes you need structure, a framework to guide your creativity. However, I also learned not to be constrained by this framework and when necessary - abandon it altogether. That's why the 'frame' in the logo is not a perfect square, for there is no one way to do things."

The letter included with the caps expresses Hsieh's perspectives, encouraging people to express their individuality, and the duality of the symbol.

"The symbol echoes the eternal struggle between conformity and creativity, reality and imaginary," the letter reads, emphasizing individuality. "Do not be boxed by the framework and when necessary - don't hesitate, be passionate, be creative. We all harbor the power to revolutionize and be a trail blazer. It is our choice to unleash those shackles holding us back and emerge as a new beast entirely."

Hsieh described the logo as "almost an oxymoron," to The Star and spoke about an "eternal paradox," the symbol captures.

 "There›s conformity and creativity, reality and imaginary, which in an essence is a struggle between order and chaos," he said, and the struggle between order and chaos seems particularly loud during the coronavirus pandemic.

"I wanted to share this with my HCWs (health care workers) because I felt that during this crisis, this is exactly what we're going through," he wrote. "Every healthcare organization, department, and individuals are having to think outside the box. We are wanting some order in all this chaos, we are finding creative ways to allow for conformity, and what we can imagine will become part of our reality. These are unprecedented times and although we were educated and trained with specific framework, we all have to work together to use what we learned and know, and create a new solution to get us through these uncharted waters. Especially being in a rural community with limited resources, I am so encouraged by what our hospital and community has overcome to prepare us. In addition, I really love the ingenuity it has brought out in so many people!"

Hsieh explained why he chose to put the word "#Frontline" on the hat, as well. 

"Our HCWs are all frontline workers in this COVID-19 response," he said. "The frontline also extends to our community too. Our grocery store employees for keeping the stores open and safe for us to continue getting our groceries. Our restaurant owners still opening their doors and making sure that we can still get our food. Our UPS and Post Office employees who are making sure that we get our packages sent and received. This also extended to all our community who are staying home during this time to help prevent spread and help flatten the curve. We are all in the frontline working together to battle this pandemic! We are all leaving a legacy behind!"

Hsieh signed the letter included with the caps with a special note to his coworkers: "I am proud to be working with you all side by side and face whatever may come next. Let us unite world wide and leave a legacy behind -  #Frontline."



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