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Healthcare workers surprised with art as a way to say thank you

Many working on the front lines of the pandemic are reporting anxiety, depression and burnout. This art can help.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — It has been almost a year since the COVID-19 pandemic changed everything. Since last March, healthcare workers have worked nonstop to care for coronavirus patients.

For many, it is taking a toll on their mental health and a group of local artists wanted to recognize that sacrifice and say thank you. What started as a blank 3 by 4 pieces of white paper turned into hundreds of pieces of art to remind health care and hospital workers they are seen and appreciated.

The past year has been a rollercoaster for health care workers thrust onto the frontlines of the pandemic.

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“You see these healthcare workers, nurses doing 12, 24-hour shifts,” Kristin Silva with Novant Health said. 

Caring for sick people who are isolated from their loved ones, many of them unfortunately not making it home, is understandably taking its toll on the mental health of many.

“Studies show anxiety, depression, burnout and anger," Mary Gail Frawley-O’Dea, a mental health expert and psychoanalyst with Presbyterian Psychological Services, a non-profit organization said.

Bright pink flowers and soothing scenes aimed at easing some of those feelings. Dozens of local artists creating and send artwork to nurses and doctors at Atrium and Novant Health.

“It’s of a beautiful beach sunset. This just makes me feel really calm, it makes me feel tranquil,” Silva said of the art she received. 

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She works in Novant Health’s new cancer institute. During the pandemic, her patients have come for treatments and appointments alone. Many of them relying on her while she also cares for her two parents at home.

It has been a stressful, scary time, this small surprise making a big difference.

“It brings a smile to your face every time you look at it,” Silva said. 

She’s thankful to the artists who made her feel important. It’s been rewarding for the artists too.

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“Most artwork from an artist is very personal. Anything you do is like a piece of you,” Liese Sadler said. “Big or small you can reach people and say hey I’m thinking of you.” 

Sadler is the artist who came up with the idea and recruited others to help. And during a time when it is difficult to connect with others, it is a beautiful way to say thank you.

“I think the art represents recognition of what these people are going through it makes them feel seen heard and appreciated,” Frawley-O’Dea said. 

Presbyterian Psychological Services is currently offering free or reduced mental health services to health care workers. Those interested can visit this site

For artists and others interested in showing their appreciation to health care workers email healthhumanities@novanthealth.org or click here.

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