Moments that matter: How small gestures can make an enormous impact during COVID-19

April 21, 2020  //  FOUND IN: News,

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Every day at Michigan Medicine, faculty, staff and learners are looking out for one another — and those they serve.

While this is a time of stress and high anxiety, it is also a time that has been reflected in incredible moments of clarity and generosity, humility and recognition.

From colleagues drawing uplifting murals in break rooms to a patient’s family member posting a “Heroes Work Here” sign outside the hospital, here are a few examples of moments at Michigan Medicine that have made employees stop and see the importance of what they’re doing.

‘Our eyes say it all’

In the UH Emergency Department, faculty and staff wear personal protective equipment throughout their shift, including masks, head covers and face shields or goggles.

But that means their eyes can still be seen, and it inspired physician assistant Cecile Hollinshead, PA-C, to create photo mosaics of 63 ED staff members.

As Hollinshead said, “Sometimes the eyes can say more than the mouth. Our eyes say it all — grace, strength, beauty, struggle, fears but, most of all, they reflect our hearts.”

Check out the incredible pieces of art at the top of the story.

More artwork on display

A painting in radiology.

Members of the Department of Radiology came to work a few weeks ago and found drawings of flowers, fish and more on walls that are under construction.

They were drawn by members of the MRI Imaging team and, as chief department administrator Dana Habers said, they “inspired and brought a positive spirit to us all.”

Another display can be found in the pediatric orthopaedics clinic, where colored hearts surround a white ribbon that reads “We are stronger together.”

Food and treats

Thousands of employees have received care packages, meals donated by local restaurants and other sweet treats in recent days.

Donuts were delivered to front-line staff members.

In fact, radiology saw their leaders come around with individually wrapped donuts for all team members. That’s 600 donuts made by a local bakery and delivered by chair Vikas Gulani, M.D., Ph.D., and associate chair of quality Prasad Shankar, M.D. The pair took the donuts to all sites that are currently operating and did so while practicing social distancing.

As Kimberly Garver, M.D., said: “Our staff experienced the compassion and camaraderie of our team and was able to make a personal connection even in a time of social distancing.”

Notes of gratitude

While patients, community members and colleagues have been sending in notes of thanks to front-line employees via email, a few others have physically delivered messages to the masses themselves.

First, sidewalk art was drawn on the paths leading up to the academic medical center, having been created by members of the child life team. They provided messages of hope and positive vibes:

Then last week, a patient’s spouse left a sign that read “HEROES WORK HERE” near the main entrance to East Medical Center Drive:

Still others wrote messages on windows within the hospital, including near the elevators to the Regional Infectious Containment Unit, or RICU. Those messages merged with a gorgeous sunrise to create yet another lasting moment that will stick with faculty and staff for the months and years to come:

Have you experienced special moments at Michigan Medicine in recent days? Let Headlines know by emailing