The Lowell Philharmonic Orchestra broadcasted a tribute concert on July 19 to thank Lowell General Hospital for their efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic emergency. The program, titled More Than Self: A Tribute to the Nurses, Doctors and Staff at Lowell General Hospital can be viewed here. The program features performances by guest artists and taped interviews shared by our hospital staff of the front lines of the pandemic. The concert also paid tribute to first responders, essential workers and the US military.
Heartfelt messages of thanks from local officials were included in the production from Rep. Lori Trahan, Lowell Mayor John Leahy, Jeanne D’Arc Credit Union CEO Mark Cochran, Lowell City Councilor Rita Mercier, UMass Lowell Chancellor Jacqueline Moloney, and Owner and CEO of the Lowell Spinners Dave Heller, Clinical staff and hospital leadership also shared reflections from their experiences on the front lines.
Sara Post, BSN, RN and Lauren Tobiassen, OT/R, Occupational Therapist shared the hardships of caring for COVID patients through a taped interview.
Post, who was a team member of the hospital’s first COVID unit, shared the emotional and physical challenges of caring for patients stricken by the virus.
“When the COVID-19 pandemic first began, my unit was selected to take the first patients that were suspected to have the virus. My co-workers and I felt both honored and scared at the same time because there were so many unknowns. On March 13 we had our first positive case, and from that moment everything changed rapidly as the number of cases quickly rose.
It was a lot of pressure, a lot of fast changing protocols, and the days felt like marathons. This virus brought so many challenges – it was especially hard for me as a nurse as we couldn’t always be there for our patients in the way we wanted to be, and neither could their families. We saw the fear in their eyes as patients struggled to breathe. It was so emotional.
I would often cry on my way home from work, and I still do when I reflect on these past few months. However, there was a lot of special moments too. Patients survived, and they were discharged. We lined the halls and cheered for them. Many of us felt too physically and mentally exhausted to cook or food shop after work, and the generous food donations from our community provided us with much needed meals. Seeing everyone step up during this pandemic has made me so proud to be a part of the Lowell General Hospital community.”
Tobiassen, an Occupational Therapist for over 26 years at the hospital, shared what it was like to have a completely new role to help very sick patients in the ICU.
“When Covid-19 began its surge, my role changed from being a therapist to being a helper in the ICU. I worked with some of the most hardworking and courageous nurses, doctors and respiratory therapists, to take care of some of the sickest patients I have ever seen.
I was a part of a Proning team where we turned patients onto their bellies in order to improve their lung function. I held the hands of patients as they passed away so they would not be alone in a time when their family was not able to be with them.
I saw sadness, I witnessed miracles and I worked alongside heroes.”