NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Behind a set of double doors on Vanderbilt University Medical Center's 8th floor, you'll find some of the most critical COVID-19 patients in Nashville.
"These patients -- it’s just every day, it’s one of the sickest patients you’ve ever taken care of. And you often have two of them," said Liza Musick, a critical care nurse at Vanderbilt.
For all those they've saved, and there have been many, too many have also been lost. "You know you get attached to some of the patients and then you come in the next day and they’ve passed away," said Leslie Thompson, an Environmental Service Technician at VUMC.
Since March, doctors, nurses and support staff have been the ones giving these patients all they have. "We’re not only their medical caregivers, but we have to be their families while they’re here and that’s a heavy burden," said Musick.
Earlier this week, it was finally their turn to receive words of encouragement, that may not draw on years of experience, but seemed to find the right things to say. More than 1,300 letters, written by area elementary school students, are now floating all over Vanderbilt's campus.
"We are all in this together -- have a very Merry Christmas," said one letter.
"I look up to you to hope one day I can be as brave as you. Thank you for all that you do," said another letter.
"When you have close contact with the ill, you’re taking chances with your health but you do it for the greater good of helping others. You really are a superhero," said another letter, that was accompanied by a hand-drawn picture of a doctor wearing a cape.
On the 8th floor, many of the notes now line the walls of the break room.
"They’re all laid out in there and I think everybody picks one up and reads it when they get the chance," said Nurse Musick. "It was just such a welcome gift to get some sweet notes from kids -- there’s nothing better in the world."
Since the pandemic started, doctors and nurses have gotten a lot of praise and it's certainly deserved, but there are some unsung heroes that need recognition, too. A few of the letters captured that, too.
Leslie Thompson takes her job seriously as an Environmental Service Technician. She's tasked with thoroughly cleaning the hospital from top to bottom. "It is very important to clean everything so won’t nobody get sick and the patients get better," she said.
But even she enjoys a good laugh. She read us one letter, geared towards the custodial staff, that seemed to combine both levity and love for their hard work.
"Dear custodians, okay let’s start with two jokes: what did the custodian say when he jumped out of his closet? Supplies!," Thompson read. The note concludes by saying, "Thanks for cleaning the hospital to make it clean. Bye!"
That only seems to prove -- sometimes the perfect gift for those who give so much themselves, is showing that you care.
"They’re all very sweet. They really are," said Musick. "Pure sweet kindness coming from kids. I think that’s huge."