Why this painting is part of ‘healing process’ for artist, hospital staff

A painting by an artist from Utah honoring frontline caregivers for their work during last year’s COVID-19 pandemic was unveiled in a ceremony on Monday on the Intermountain Medical Center campus in Murray when the state only opened 173 new cases and one additional death reported from the virus.

Jess Gomez, spokeswoman for the region’s largest health care provider, said copies of painter Heather Olsen, described as representing health workers around the world, will be hanging in Intermountain Healthcare hospitals across Utah.

Olsen said the coronavirus outbreak began more than a year ago “was a very scary time”. She said she wanted to honor health care workers who did not hesitate to “step in and sacrifice so much to help everyone else” and showing their courage was “a healing process” for them.

Amy Christensen, chief nursing officer for specialty treatments at Intermountain Healthcare, said all caregivers will be given a copy of the painting in some form as a thank you for what they have done over the past year.

“We hope that all caregivers, whether they are bedside workers or support those who do, will see this gesture from Heather as recognition of her efforts through a very serious pandemic,” and hope for the future, she said.

“It was humbling to watch our own carers give themselves,” Christensen said. “We have seen acts and demonstrations of courage every day, knowing the very emotional and physical exhaustion they face.”

Amy Christensen, Intermountain Healthcare chief nursing officer, left, and Utah artist Heather Olsen unveil Olsen’s painting, “Together We Can Do This,” which will be open to caregivers on Monday April at the Intermountain Transformation Center in Murray will be presented on 5, 2021. Olsen painted the work to honor caregivers in Utah for their dedication, dedication, and heroism in saving countless lives during the pandemic. Copies of the painting are on display in Intermountain hospitals across the state. Steve Griffin, Deseret News

During the pandemic, there were hundreds of stories of caregivers becoming replacements for family members who were kept away from the virus. Starting Monday, Intermountain Healthcare has a new visit policy that will allow patients who have had COVID-19 or have been vaccinated to visit patients who have been hospitalized with the virus.

In addition to the painting, which was unveiled during a press conference at the Intermountain Healthcare Transformation Center, Olsen also portrayed Utah health care workers who traveled to New York City in the early days of the pandemic to help out in overwhelmed hospitals.

Elizabeth Hyde, an intensive care nurse who made the trip to New York City, said it was “both mentally and physically demanding” dealing with all of the unknowns surrounding the deadly virus. “But we were there every day trying our best to save lives” to celebrate surviving patients and to mourn those who did not.

Hyde said Olsen’s previous work gave her “just the boost I needed” shortly after she returned from New York City, the epicenter of the pandemic. While Hyde said she was grateful she chose the nursing profession, “I questioned that at least monthly last year.”

Jay Larsen, an emergency room nurse, said the past year has been one of “enormous ups and downs”. He told reporters that the bold colors of Olsen’s recent work “represent the resilience of our people and our team and what they can achieve in times of need.”

Both Hyde and Larsen praised the strength of the faces of the people depicted in the painting.

Jay Larsen, an Intermountain Healthcare emergency room nurse, looks at Utah artist Heather Olsen's painting,

Jay Larsen, an Intermountain Healthcare emergency room nurse, looks at Utah artist Heather Olsen’s painting, “Together We Can Do This,” after it was presented to carers at the Intermountain Transformation Center in Murray on Monday, April 5, 2021 work to honor caregivers in Utah for their dedication, dedication, and heroism to saving countless lives during the pandemic. Copies of the painting are on display in Intermountain hospitals across the state. Steve Griffin, Deseret News

Number of cases below 200

With the 173 new COVID-19 cases reported Monday by the Utah Department of Health, the number of cases in the state has risen to 387,514. The death toll in Utah now stands at 2,133. The loss of a Utah County woman aged 65 to 84 who was hospitalized at the time of her death was reported on Monday.

The total number of vaccine doses administered in Utah is 1,498,039, an increase of 2,326 daily.

The seven-day rolling average for positive tests is 397 per day. On Monday, the state health department reported that an additional 2,111 Utahns were tested for the coronavirus, bringing the total number of Utahns tested to 2,413,193. Another 3,778 tests were conducted, and the total number of tests conducted in the state since the pandemic began is now 4,294,735.

The rolling seven-day percent positivity of the tests at 3.5% when all results are included, the method used by the state to calculate transmission levels in the county, and 7.1% when multiple tests on a person are excluded in the past 90 days.

There are currently 121 people hospitalized in Utah with COVID.19, bringing the total number of hospitalizations in the state to 15,625 since the pandemic began.

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