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Virtual Event Aspires to Lift Spirits and Give Thanks

April 23, 2020
by Jane E. Dee

In addition to being a wife and the mother of two young children, Erin Taylor, MD, is a senior chief resident at Yale New Haven Hospital (YNHH) and Yale School of Medicine (YSM), providing leadership and support for residents in the Department of Radiology & Biomedical Imaging along with her three co-chiefs.

Dr. Taylor was on duty in March when normal workflows, from scheduling to imaging protocols, were completely reworked over the course of one weekend in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Although she primarily works in a radiology reading room reviewing imaging studies, on occasion she dons full personal protective equipment before performing a procedure, such as an ultrasound, on a patient with COVID-19.

Recounting her interactions with patients who are sick and frightened brings her to the verge of tears, even as the dedication of the hospital’s health care workers inspires her. “As diagnostic radiologists, we’re in the reading rooms, and for the most part separate from the true frontline,” Dr. Taylor said. “While I have seen patients intermittently, it is nothing compared to what my friends in other programs such as internal medicine, or anesthesiology, are experiencing.”

Dr. Taylor, who is also a musician, has found a way to give back to her colleagues by organizing a virtual musical event interlaced with other forms of art. “Stay Strong in Solidarity & Harmony,” will feature art and music submissions from across the Yale community. The livestreamed video to the Yale community will be dedicated to the health care workers who are caring for patients during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Her goal, she said, “is to lift spirits and experience mass catharsis.”

“We’ve already received some amazing submissions, including original music and art, that beautifully incorporate the experiences of patients, their families, and health care workers during this tough time,” Dr. Taylor said. “I’m honored to be able to create an outlet for them to be shared with the Yale community.”

Before the pandemic, Dr. Taylor was planning a live event at Toad’s Place as co-chair of the Advocacy Council for the Yale Resident Fellow Senate (YRFS), which had to be cancelled due to COVID-19. She had recruited friends who are also musicians to perform at the event, which was organized to build community around global health and create a fund for resident global health projects.

The “Stay Strong in Solidarity & Harmony” virtual event is supported by the YRFS, including executive board Presidents Samantha Margulies, MD, and Sudipta Devanath, MD, as well as by YSM’s Graduate Medical Education (GME) program.

“This is an important, exciting and inspiring initiative. I am proud to be a small part and am fully supportive,” said Stephen J. Huot, MD, PhD, Associate Dean for Graduate Medical Education.

The goal is to livestream the event in mid-May to the Yale community.

“We are looking forward to the joy it will bring to our trainees during this time,” said Dr. Devanath. 

Dr. Taylor plans to contribute a couple of songs to the video, and has recruited other musician friends and colleagues to do the same. “I think so many of us are using our creative sides to cope, what better way to bring us together and to help others to get through this,” Dr. Taylor said.

The greatest need is for visual content such as photographs and artwork, especially expressions of gratitude, for example, a public thank you sign to healthcare workers, or a child’s artwork, like the drawings she helps her children, Jonathan, 4, and Grace, 2, create on her days off from the hospital.

“If you witness something and snap a photo, send it along,” Dr. Taylor urged. “It doesn’t have to be big -- there are many meaningful ways to contribute that are small. Even a short message (video, audio, or written) of gratitude to the healthcare workers of YNHH would be truly inspirational.”

AZA Allsop, MD, PhD, a first-year resident in the Department of Psychiatry at YSM, also will be performing. This is the second time Drs. Allsop and Taylor have worked together. They met at Harvard Medical School when he contributed to a Make-A-Wish event that she helped to organize.

“As a psychiatry resident and a recording artist, I spend a lot of time thinking about the therapeutic value of art, and in my case, music,” Dr. Allsop said. “I think in this time when people are feeling increasingly isolated and mental health across the country is deteriorating, being able to come together as a community to harness the therapeutic power of music and other art forms is a great way to build solidarity and for people to feel connected.”

 “Ultimately, the way that art speaks to our universal experiences, especially in challenging times, is probably one of our greatest tools for uplifting each other,” he said.

 

If you are a member of the Yale community and would like to share your artwork, music, a favorite quote, poem, or a brief message of gratitude or encouragement to the healthcare workers of YNHH, please send to StayStrongYNHH@gmail.com by April 30.

Submitted by Angel Machon on April 23, 2020