Intubated COVID-19 patient plays violin for medical staff to say a musical ‘thank you’
19 November 2020, 10:43
The 70-year-old musician played church hymns and the ‘Tennessee Waltz’ as hospital staff watched on teary-eyed.
Grover Wilhelmsen was intubated and unable to speak, so requested in writing to perform on the ICU ward in Utah to thank the workers. “It’s the very least I could do,” he wrote.
To ensure a safe environment for the concert, medical staff closed the doors to Grover’s room and enjoyed the music from behind the glass.
“About a dozen caregivers gathered to watch and listen in the ICU,” said Grover’s nurse, Ciara Sase. “It brought tears to my eyes. For all the staff to see a patient doing this while intubated was unbelievable.”
“Even though he was so sick, he was still able to push through,” Sase continued.
“You could see how much it meant to him. Playing kind of helped to soothe his nerves and brought him back to the moment.”
The 70-year-old musician played multiple times over a couple of days, before his symptoms worsened and he had to be sedated.
Sase had learned from her colleagues that the violinist had been teaching and playing music “all of his life”.
“It was honestly shocking to be there when he picked up the violin,” nurse Matt Harper added. “It felt like I was in a dream.”
He continued: “I’m used to patients being miserable or sedated while being intubated, but Grover made an unfortunate situation into something positive.
“This was by far one of my favourite memories in the ICU that I’ve had. It was a small light in the darkness of COVID.”
Grover was recently discharged from the ward after staying for over a month, and is currently residing at an acute care facility where he is expected to recover.
“He truly is special and made a mark on all of us,” Sase said.
“When I started to cry in the room after he was done playing, he wrote to me, ‘Quit crying. Just smile,’ and he smiled at me.”