It is no secret the COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on everyone working in health care. In 2020, some facilities increased vital communication and the treatment of emotional and mental fatigue to address pandemic exhaustion. Some hospitals began a 24/7 direct access to a therapist, while also having access to open support groups with massage therapy and relaxation methods. These forms of emotional support have been critical for staff members to feel supported during uncertain times throughout the pandemic.
Toward the end of 2020, Jason O'Connell, RN, Parkview Heart Institute, proposed a concept for a mural to mark the milestones of the COVID-19 pandemic, and to provide a visual representation of hard work and heartbreak.
The mural's name is La Vita e Bellissima (Italian for “Life is Beautiful"). O'Connell said he wanted the mural to convey a message of caring for one another, hope, and love.
“As cities across the U.S. emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, they may face an ongoing mental health crisis as a result. I believe the arts, including murals like mine, can help people by expressing concern for suffering and loss," O'Connell said.
Now complete, the three-panel painting demonstrates that life is beautiful, despite the struggles we are currently facing. From left to right, the message moves from despair to joy. The idea at the core of his concept – that man should be mindful of why we care about each other – came to mind for Jason when his wife was battling the virus.
O'Connell says Parkview has two other paintings of his as well. One is on the third floor of the Parkview Heart Institute. The other is in the Ronald McDonald House on the Parkview Regional Medical Center (PRMC) campus. The Ronald McDonald House painting was also used for a greeting card cover for the 15-guestroom House. O'Connell believes artwork can encourage people and can create images people can identify with.
“Art can say, 'You're not alone. I am supporting you even if it feels like you don't have anyone who understands,'" O'Connell said.
O'Connell said even though he is an artist at heart, he is very happy with his role as a bedside nurse. He says he always wants his role to be caring for a patient, at their bedside, helping them into a brighter, healthier future.
“As a nurse and as an artist, my role is to make someone feel better by standing by them when they need someone to be with them," O'Connell said. “As a nurse, I may be delivering medicine. As an artist, I'm delivering beauty. Either way, I'm delivering care."
Click here to view the short video about this mural project.
Photo and story information courtesy of IHA member, Parkview Health.