WATCH: Intubated COVID-19 patient serenades health care workers with violin in ICU

Eldis Sula
November 20, 2020 - 12:41 pm

    A coronavirus patient in Utah used his violin to tug at the heart strings of his health care workers while intubated in the ICU.

    Grover Wilhelmsen, a retired orchestra teacher, played the violin as a tribute to staff McKay-Dee Hospital in Ogden, reports CNN.

    In a video, the 70-year-old can be seen seated on the edge of his hospital bed, performing on the instrument, all while intubated and unable to speak during his treatment for the virus.

    Wilhelmsen used a pen and paper to make the special request that would make the performance possible, according to his nurse.

    "Toward the middle of my shift he wrote, 'You know, I really want to play here at the hospital. What do you think about my wife bringing in my violin and viola?,'" wrote Ciara Sase, an RN at McKay-Dee Hospital, in a news release.

    The performance began modestly, with Wilhelmsen playing his violin for Sase, who monitored him in his room as he played church hymns and the "Tennessee Waltz."

    But the moment quickly captured the attention of other staff, who gathered outside the glass doors of his intensive care room to watch the performance.

    "It brought tears to my eyes. For all the staff to see a patient doing this while intubated was unbelievable," Sase said. "Even though he was so sick, he was still able to push through. You could see how much it meant to him. Playing kind of helped to soothe his nerves and brought him back to the moment."

    "It was honestly shocking to be there when he picked up the violin," explained Matt Harper, another RN at McKay-Dee, in the news release. "It felt like I was in a dream."

    The gesture came as no surprise to Wilhelmsen’s wife, Diane.

    "That's just Grover," she told CNN. "He wanted to play it to thank them."

    Diane told the outlet that both she and her husband were diagnosed with the virus in early October. While she was able to manage her symptoms at home, her husband had to report to the hospital pursuant to COVID’s impact on his lungs.

    Wilhelmsen is slowly improving, with doctors currently working on weening him off his ventilator.

    While Diane wasn’t able to see Grover due to visitor restrictions, the two see and communicate with each other through the glass at the acute care facility where he is currently situated.

    "We can stand outside the window and call him on the phone," she said. "He can't speak but he will write on a piece of paper."

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