A COVID-19 patient in the ICU of a US hospital was recorded playing the violin for hospital staff to keep their spirits up and to thank them. The video has since been widely circulated and prompted several comments on social media.
Grover Wilhelmsen, a patient at the McKay-Dee Hospital in Utah was seen playing his violin even though he was fitted to a ventilator.
Wilhelmsen, who couldn’t speak to the caregivers due to being intubated, expressed his appreciation through music. He played a multiple pieces including the Tennessee Waltz and church hymns.
Wilhelmsen, a retired orchestra teacher at a local high school, was admitted to the hospital in October after testing positive for COVID-19, said Intermountain Healthcare, which manages the medical facility, in a press release.
Armed with a pen and paper, Wilhelmsen communicated with his nurse Ciara Sase, talking about his history with music and how much joy it brings him. He later suggested that his wife Diana could bring in his violin and viola so he could express his gratitude through music.
“I said to him, ‘We’d love to hear you play, it would bring so much brightness and positivity into our environment’,” the nurse was quoted as saying in the statement.
After checking that it was safe for him to play and to bring in the instrument into the ICU, the doctors gave the go-ahead for the performance. According to the hospital, Wilhelmsen played for a few hours, two days in a row.
Since rooms with COVID-19 patients are sealed off, Wilhelmsen’s nurse ensured that other healthcare workers could also listen to the music if they gathered outside.
“It brought tears to my eyes. For all the staff to see a patient doing this while intubated was unbelievable,” Sase said.
“Even though he was so sick, he was still able to push through. You could see how much it meant to him. Playing kind of helped to soothe his nerves and brought him back to the moment,” she said, adding that all the staff were thankful for his performance.
Wilhelmsen’s wife told CNN that it didn’t surprise her that he had requested for his musical instruments.
“That’s just Grover,” she said. “He wanted to play it to thank them.”
After spending more than a month battling COVID-19, Wilhelmsen was recently discharged from the ICU to a long-term acute care facility, where he’s expected to recover, his wife told KSL News.
“What an amazing person to be able to sit there with a tube down his throat and still think of others and ‘what can I do for them,” his daughter Rebekah Blume told the media outlet.