Celebrating our Coronavirus Survivors

Hospital staff at NYP Queens give recovered COVID-19 patients a triumphant send-off.

In these difficult times , finding moments to celebrate can be challenging. But staff at NewYork-Presbyterian Queens have found a way to bring a little extra joy to their patients who have recovered from COVID-19. Now when patients are well enough to leave the hospital, the staff sends them off by singing Journey’s Don’t Stop Believin’.

“Every patient discharge gives hope to NewYork-Presbyterian Queens staff,” says Jaclyn Mucaria, president of NewYork-Presbyterian Queens. “They are encouraged to see their patients recovering and going home. It’s a positive moment for our staff to see this celebration of recovery.”

The idea to play a song when patients are discharged came from Dr. Benjamin Lee, chief of Thoracic Surgery at NewYork-Presbyterian Queens.

“Most of us only heard the overhead pages that go off seemingly every few minutes ,” says Dr. Lee. “However, what we didn’t see were all the people who were eventually recovering and going home. So I suggested a short song to play to celebrate each successful COVID-19 discharge to remind us that we’re having small victories in the fight to win this war.”

Tena Vizner, director of patient experience at NewYork-Presbyterian Queens, says when Dr. Lee brought the idea to Mucaria, she agreed this would be a great way to celebrate patients who were able to leave the hospital after recovering from COVID-19. Don’t Stop Believin’ was a natural choice for the occasion.

Shooting the video was a spur-of-the-moment decision that came together in under five minutes, says Vizner. Staff were wheeling a COVID-19–recovered patient out of the hospital when a member of the patient experience team ran over to capture the moment by phone. Now, Vizner says, the world can see something wonderful.

“When the song comes on, it’s almost like a meditative moment where we just say, wow, that’s amazing,” says Tena, adding that none of this would be possible if not for the heroic efforts of the doctors, nurses, respiratory therapists, and everyone who’s part of the care teams. “It gives us hope that we’re going to get through this together. Some people dance, some people sing, but it’s just a nice reminder that there is positivity taking place in the midst of the crisis. And for the rest of our lives, that song is going to signify something special.”

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