The New York Times

The New York Times 4 May 2020

Concerts for Coronavirus Patients: Doctor Brings Music and Hope


Dr. Rachel Easterwood, a professionally trained musician-turned-physician, has found a unique way to help her patients with Covid-19 — live classical music concerts.

Elyse Isopo, a nurse practitioner in the intensive care unit at North Shore University Hospital in New York, takes us through a day in her life as she treats coronavirus patients. She starts and ends each day by taking her temperature before caring for the hospital's sickest patients.

Robots are being used to aid in the care of coronavirus patients at a hospital in the Lombardy region of Italy.
Staff at Myongji hospital in South Korea asked musician Won Hyung-joon if he'd perform for their Covid-19 patients.

Previously he had been broadcasting performances over social media to help audiences during the outbreak.
A new poll found thousands of doctors around the world have agreed that hydroxychloroquine is the best treatment for the coronavirus. One America's Pearson Sharp has more.

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“To be in one of the Covid patients’ shoes,
to me, seems horrifying.
They have an illness that we don’t fully understand yet.
They’re alone.
They’re short of breath.
I can only imagine how scary it must be.
That’s part of the reason why we’re just
trying to do everything we can to support the patients
both medically and, I guess, spiritually.
This strange overlap just happened
between my two different lives of music and medicine.
And they’ve come together in some unexpected and beautiful way.
Hi, Andrew.
How are you?”
“Hey, Rachel.
I’m fine.
How are you doing?”
“Great, nice to see you.
There are very few things in this world
where you can kind of transcend
time and your place.
And I definitely know that music is one of those things.
It adds a level of humanity to a situation
that I think this virus has taken away.
The atmosphere on the shifts where I’m working,
it’s impossible to describe.
We’ve been seeing a lot of difficult deaths.
And that’s throughout New York City.
I think a lot of doctors that I’ve
talked to have expressed the same sentiment,
that we aren’t helping enough.
There’s a pianist, a violist and a cellist
that are in the same place.
And there’s a cellist on the West Coast.
And they actually already had sort
of a project going on where they
play for more vulnerable populations,
and were very interested in helping with the patients
that I was seeing.”
“I just had this phone call with Rachel.”
“She mentioned that wouldn’t it
be incredible if the Covid patients who
were more isolated from their family and friends than ever
could experience this.”
“FaceTime concerts for Covid patients.”
“And it suddenly clicked that we could provide that.”
[phone ringing]
“Hey, Rachel.”
“Hey, guys.
Thank you so much.
How are you?”
“We get a call from Rachel on FaceTime.”
“I’m going to put the phone down on the table,
and then you guys can go, OK?”
“OK, great.
Thank you.”
“Thank you.”
“And she says, OK guys, you’re on.
And just, we play.”
“It’s not silence on the other side of the call.
It’s a lot of noise.
It’s a lot of beeping from the machines.
Typically you can hear the ventilator breathing
for the patient.”
“It takes us, in a way, like, boom,
we’re right in the front lines.”
“This is how we can hold their hands right now.
It’s through music.”
“Every time we get off the phone,
there’s a bit of a different atmosphere in this house.”
“I started off studying to be a classical musician.
So to be able to bring music into the hospital,
I really never thought that would happen.
The first concert was for a patient that had
really no ability to interact.
We had talked to the family.
And I was standing there next to this Covid patient.
It was so surreal, but I just felt
like at that moment in time in my life,
that everything I had had up until that point had led me
to that.
And I think everybody was really
feeling their own mortality.
And I thought to myself at that time,
if I don’t make it through this,
then I’ve done what I’m supposed to do.”
“I have a couple, a couple songs that I
chose that I just think are really beautiful on the cello.
I hope you enjoy.”
“Thank you.”
“At my hospital, we’re all a family.
And I think that it actually helps not only the patients,
but also the morale of the doctors and nurses.
[cello playing]
We hope that this music for patients
brings them a sense of comfort that’s definitely lacking.
I hope these concerts can ease the pain a bit,
and I hope that it can give them hope.”

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