Blue Hearts Ceremony Honors Pandemic's Frontline Heroes At UH Parma

UH Parma Medical Center caregivers solemnly placed carnations in blue vases at the front of the room while music softly played. Then each received a blue heart pin from a leader to commemorate two of the most challenging years in health care that anyone could have ever imagined. They hugged and they released some of the emotions carried throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We are obviously not done with the pandemic, but this ceremony allowed us to put some closure to the fear, anxiety, and grief that have been such a big part of our lives over the last two years,” said Kathi O’Connor, Director of Operations and Clinical Services, who was among the leaders greeting caregivers and handing each of them a white carnation as they entered the auditorium.

The Blue Hearts Ceremony at UH Parma on 2-22-22 was a chance to remember, recognize and reflect all that this team of health care workers had been through over the past two years. Caregivers from departments across the hospital were invited to stop by the auditorium for a few minutes to reflect and write down what they would want someone to know a century from now about this time. Cards were collected to be stored in a time capsule to be opened in 100 years.

“Today’s ceremony means that our contributions during COVID are not forgotten,” said Infection Control nurse Maria Scheutzow, who has been integral to the hospital’s pandemic response since its earliest days in March 2020 and helped plan the service with Chief Nursing Officer Kim Monaco. “We have been a part of history and our time capsule reflections are a record of UH Parma’s experience with living through a pandemic.”

Blue hearts have become an internet sensation signifying unity among healthcare workers, said Miranda Balog, BSN, RN, Operations Manager of Nursing. Letting go of loss and looking forward to better days is important for those who have been on the frontlines for the past two years.

“The last two years have truly been a struggle in healthcare and every one of us has been impacted by the repercussions of this virus,” said Balog. “We’ve taken an immense hit to our healthcare workforce and now we have to work together and develop new ways to continue to provide high-quality care to patients."

CJ Sheppard

Senior Communications Strategist, University Hospitals Parma Medical Center

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Volume 14, Issue 4, Posted 9:05 AM, 04.01.2022