HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – In August, we brought you the story of a health care worker on the front line in the battle against Covid-19. She wanted to brighten up the lives of her patients. And you responded.
Huntsville Hospital’s Cardiac Care Unit was one of the first to transform into a Covid-19 ICU when patients started arriving in March. Sarah Calvelage has been on the front line from the beginning.
“This is a difficult situation and so I would say that we’re holding up well,” Sarah told me in early August, “The morale among my coworkers is very high because ultimately, we have each other and we’re going to get through it.”
One of the toughest things the team has faced was seeing patients get better physically while their mental health took a turn. “The loneliness is hard to deal with for us as nurses sometimes,” Sarah said.
One of her patients had been in the hospital for more than a month. Sarah remembers the moment, “And he mentioned to me one night when I was in his room that we were nice girls taking care of him, but he said he hadn’t seen a smile from another human in over a month.”
That was Sarah’s call to action. She posted on Facebook asking family and friends to send cards, well wishes, anything they could to put on the cold white walls of the ICU. “We’ve been able to brighten up their rooms of all of our patients back here,” Sarah said with a smile, “And it really has seemed to improve their mood and lift their spirits quite a bit.”
When we shared Sarah’s story with our viewers, the response was unbelievable. “Every day when I get to work, I open my locker and it’s like an avalanche of mail, notes, cards, pictures and things that fall out,” Sarah told me, “So that’s been really cool to go through and see.”
One of those who sent mail to Sarah was Phillip Hampton. “I’ve been drawing all my life,” he told me. Phillip is a carpenter and landscaper by trade but enjoys doing art. “I try to use it in a way to help people and to make people feel better about themselves,” he said smiling.
He sent Sarah several pieces of his work. “I saw nurse Sarah’s story that aired, and something just clicked, and I just couldn’t stop drawing,” Phillip said.
While he could not be on the front line with health care workers, he did what he could to make others feel better. “All I have is hope and it kinda comes down to love thy neighbor,” Phillip said, “Cause I really don’t have to know you to know that you get weary and you get tired. And if I can draw a picture to remind you that you got this, then I do it for them.”
One of Sarah’s favorites shows a nurse knocking out Covid-19 in a boxing ring. “We actually hung those up around the outside of the patient’s rooms so that we can see them as well as the patients,” Sarah said, “Those were amazing.”
They were inspiration for the staff. “That’s awesome,” Phillip told me, “That’s what I hoped the pictures would do cause they’re on the front line fighting for all of us.” Sarah added, “I can’t say enough about the community we live in. The Huntsville area is just so generous and so loving and kind.”
It’s been a long year for those on the medical front lines. “It’s not over yet but I think that this has shown us that no matter what we face in our careers, in our lives, we have the ability to have community support, to have compassion and love and to show it in some unique ways,” Sarah said, “This isn’t medicine but it sure makes them feel better.”
But perhaps it was just the prescription we needed. When I mentioned to Phillip that his art was medicine to the people in the unit, he smiled and humbly said, “I really appreciate that Jerry. That is what I had hoped it would do.”
If you would like to send a card, note, picture or drawing to patients in the Covid-19 Unit at Huntsville Hospital, here’s the address.
CCU2 – Sarah Cavelage
101 Sivley Road
Huntsville, AL 35801