Boosting Spirits Through Song

Two employees at NewYork-Presbyterian Queens are using their voices to lift the spirits of front-line staff.

When Dawn Jones, a Patient Experience lead at NewYork-Presbyterian Queens, comes to work every day, she has one hope: “May I be light in darkness.”

During this challenging time , that has been no easy task, but Jones and Nurse Manager Kym Villamer found a way: boosting spirits through their voices. The two colleagues have become a traveling roadshow, singing feel-good songs, such as Marvin Gaye’s Ain’t No Mountain High Enough, throughout the hospital.

“The song describes how we look at the challenge we face,” says Villamer. “We realized this would be a good time to share this song with the entire hospital, so we started the Ain’t No Mountain High Enough tour.”

“Singing for the staff and seeing them smile, dance, and join in singing is the answer to that prayer. It feels so good to bring cheer to the different units,” says Jones. She says that they began doing this in mid-April and have since visited almost every unit in the hospital to hold either a scheduled or spontaneous singalong.

Villamer and Jones say a few minutes of break from the routine can make a difference in their days, and the experience both strengthens the bonds between co-workers and reminds them that they will win this battle.

“It’s a reminder that we are indeed stronger together, and that we need one another,” Villamer says. “It is an honor and a gift to have such happy people working at NewYork-Presbyterian Queens because we get to see difficulty through the lens of hope. That is what we aim to provide every day: hope. And music is powerful, so I’m really thankful that they receive our music, and they allow it to fuel them. My heart is just overflowing. They just fill me with strength and gratitude, and I hope I do the same for them.”

Staff reactions have been overwhelmingly positive, say Jones and Villamer. Colleagues have told them these mini-concerts have helped them to work through their stressful days, and that the songs make them feel better and get them ready to keep fighting.

“It was such a pleasure to have these young women with such fabulous voices take the time to entertain us, as it was a much-needed break during this pandemic,” says Dino Berruti, a physician assistant in the Medical Intensive Care Unit at NewYork-Presbyterian Queens. “It was truly a blessing.”

“Some staff cry and wish they could hug us,” says Jones.

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