I.C.U. Doctor Brings Music, and Hope, to Coronavirus Patients | NYT News

Dr. Rachel Easterwood, a professionally trained musician-turned-physician, has found a unique way to help her patients with Covid-19 — live classical music concerts.

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“To be in one of the
Covid patients’ shoes,to me, seems horrifying.They have an illness that we
don’t fully understand yet.They’re alone.They’re short of breath.I can only imagine
how scary it must be.That’s part of the
reason why we’re justtrying to do everything
we can to support the patientsboth medically
and, I guess, spiritually.This strange overlap
just happenedbetween my two different
lives of music and medicine.And they’ve come together in
some unexpected and beautiful way.Hi, Andrew.How are you?”“Hey, Rachel.I’m fine.How are you doing?”“Great, nice to see you.There are very few
things in this worldwhere you can
kind of transcendtime and your place.And I definitely know that
music is one of those things.It adds a level of
humanity to a situationthat I think this
virus has taken away.The atmosphere on the
shifts where I’m working,it’s impossible to describe.We’ve been seeing a lot
of difficult deaths.And that’s throughout
New York City.I think a lot of
doctors that I’vetalked to have expressed
the same sentiment,that we aren’t helping enough.There’s a pianist, a
violist and a cellistthat are in the same place.And there’s a cellist
on the West Coast.And they actually
already had sortof a project going
on where theyplay for more
vulnerable populations,and were very interested in
helping with the patientsthat I was seeing.”“I just had this phone call
with Rachel.”“She mentioned
that wouldn’t itbe incredible if the
Covid patients whowere more isolated from their
family and friends than evercould experience this.”“FaceTime concerts
for Covid patients.”“And it suddenly clicked
that we could provide that.”[phone ringing]“Hey, Rachel.”“Hey, guys.Thank you so much.How are you?”“We get a call from
Rachel on FaceTime.”“I’m going to put the
phone down on the table,and then you guys
can go, OK?”“OK.”“OK, great.Thank you.”“Thank you.”“And she says, OK guys,
you’re on.And just, we play.”“It’s not silence on the
other side of the call.It’s a lot of noise.It’s a lot of beeping
from the machines.Typically you can hear
the ventilator breathingfor the patient.”[beeping]“It takes us, in
a way, like, boom,we’re right in
the front lines.”“This is how we can hold
their hands right now.It’s through music.”“Every time we
get off the phone,there’s a bit of a different
atmosphere in this house.”“I started off studying to
be a classical musician.So to be able to bring
music into the hospital,I really never thought
that would happen.The first concert was
for a patient that hadreally no ability to interact.We had talked to the family.And I was standing there
next to this Covid patient.It was so surreal,
but I just feltlike at that moment
in time in my life,that everything I had had up
until that point had led meto that.And I think
everybody was reallyfeeling their own mortality.And I thought to
myself at that time,if I don’t make
it through this,then I’ve done what
I’m supposed to do.”“I have a couple, a
couple songs that Ichose that I just think are
really beautiful on the cello.I hope you enjoy.”“Thank you.”“At my hospital,
we’re all a family.And I think that it actually
helps not only the patients,but also the morale of
the doctors and nurses.[cello playing]We hope that this
music for patientsbrings them a sense of comfort
that’s definitely lacking.I hope these concerts
can ease the pain a bit,and I hope that
it can give them hope.”

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