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Every day across the United States and the world, health care providers demonstrate quiet humanity as they deliver patient care during a pandemic. Here are just a few stories that exemplify that from Legacy Care, an independent medical group of physicians and advanced practice providers who deliver on-site care for post-acute and long-term care, inpatient rehabilitation, and assisted living communities around the nation.
Debussy in a Hallway
Molly Cage, MD, PhD, has been playing the piano since the second grade. Her musical gifts are ones she freely shares with patients through live classical piano performances she’s hosted at four assisted living communities in central Virginia where she works.
“Playing music for others is special for me,” said Dr. Cage, whose repertoire includes pieces from Beethoven, Bach, Mozart, and other classical masters. “Residents seem to really like it and are so appreciative — it’s a nice change of pace for them.”
Her first series of concerts was held in February, just before COVID-19 hit. Afterward, she had to get creative to perform safely. Using her husband’s speaker from his bluegrass band and a portable keyboard, Dr. Cage brought her show on the road.
“I played in hallways, so residents were able to sit in the doorways of their apartments or rooms and listen, socially distanced,” Dr. Cage said. “They are so isolated right now, stuck inside. The concerts almost seem to be a little vacation without the travel.”
Dr. Cage, who has been with Legacy Care since 2017, noticed the calming affect her music had on patients. “There was one patient who began smiling and swinging her legs when I played a Debussy piece. She didn’t remember she used to be a dancer, but hearing the song seemed to bring back that lost memory, at least to her physical body.”
There is a wide body of research and compelling evidence that points to how music positively influences health (Caring for the Ages 2018;19:P18). “We are trained as physicians to be very academic in our approach to the body, but clearly there is much more to people than their physical selves,” said Dr. Cage. “My responsibility as a doctor is to heal, and that cannot always be done with a prescription.”
Summer Fun — and Charting — in the Sun
Elizabeth Adams, ACNP, is a nurse practitioner who considers her patients to be like family members. When she saw how lonely they had become because of the COVID-19 visitor restrictions, she took action.
“I watched residents become depressed and helpless because they were socially isolated in their rooms, disconnected from their families. They felt trapped,” said Ms. Adams. Online connections aren’t always a viable solution. “This generation doesn’t always understand virtual connections with loved ones — sometimes that can even be a bit confusing. I knew we had to get folks outside for fresh air and sunshine.”
That’s how Friday Fun with Elizabeth was born at the Virginia-based skilled nursing center where Ms. Adams has served as a provider for several years. “For the first gathering, I brought music and cut-up watermelon for about 15 residents who joined me outside on our patio,” said Ms. Adams. Other summertime-themed refreshments eventually made the menu as well, including fancy fruit punch “mocktails,” cantaloupe, and honeydew.
Outdoors, Ms. Adams can help ensure the social distancing protocols are followed. “I brought a folding table and chair so I also can complete charts while sitting with everyone.”
When asked what these outdoor gatherings mean to the community, one resident named Grace said, “These events give me sanity, comfort, and freedom.” Diane, another resident, added, “The events give me peace and serenity.”
Arts and Crafts
Kathy Anderson, ACNP-BC, has a heart of gold. A nurse practitioner for more than 20 years, she recently made 30 goodie bags for isolated residents at a skilled nursing and rehabilitation center where she delivers care in Richmond, VA.
A wooden airplane kit, colored pencils, a jumbo word search book, fluffy socks, and other comforts were among the treats provided.
“Because of COVID-19, there were no group activities, and residents were mostly confined to their rooms,” said Ms. Anderson, who took the time to make each gift bag on her own. “I was attempting to bring some light to their gloomy day.”
Ms. Anderson, who has been with Legacy Care for more than eight years, is a seasoned practitioner who is devoted to her patients. “Geriatrics is a great specialty that brings many rewards.”
Ms. Meredith is the vice president of Communications & Culture at Legacy Care in Virginia.