LOUISVILLE, Ky. — In an emotional ceremony, nurses honored the lives of 29 patients lost to COVID-19 at UofL Health Jewish Hospital 7 Towers. The small group of hospital staff braved a windy rooftop terrace to remember the lives lost, and say words and prayers to bring comfort and peace to each other.
On the blustery gray day Wednesday, through tears, the Rock Cleansing Ceremony was held. Patients' names and initials were written onto stones and dropped into a vase of water, which was then sprinkled onto a hospital garden. This particular floor, serving as a COVID-19 ward currently, marked its 29th patient death Wednesday.
"We even lost a patient this morning," Amber Stull, certified nursing assistant (CNA), recounted. "As soon as we got here this morning, it was a sad…it was a sad start.”
The brief ceremony allowed staff to gather together, safely, and gather strength: "When she was saying prayer, you know, it was really windy outside, then it was just like a calmness that took over and it was really moving," Stull added.
It can be difficult to keep coming back to the place of so much tragedy for work, day in and day out.
"Who else is [going to] do it?" asked Brittany Dawson, another CNA, explaining her motivation to keep going.
Sadly, the nurses expect more names will be added to the vase of stones they will keep.
"You know we’re holding their hands as they take their last breath," said Stull, "and we would all go into the rooms on the bedside and we would sit with the patients and make sure that they were comfortable.”
“I want [families] to know that we are always with the people that need us the most," Dawson said.