'A sign of hope.' Shawnee hospital displays pinwheels honoring 446 recovered COVID-19 patients

Tina Bridenstine
The Shawnee News-Star
Hospital employees place pinwheels in the flowerbeds Wednesday. Each pinwheel represents a local patient who recovered from COVID-19.

Wednesday afternoon, employees of SSM Health St. Anthony Hospital — Shawnee gathered in front of the main entrance to celebrate the 446 local patients who have recovered from COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic.

“Today is a great day,” Angi Mohr, president of Shawnee's hospital, said. “We are going to celebrate those 446 patients by planting a pinwheel for each one of them here.”

Employees were encouraged to take pinwheels from the box and plant them in the hospital flower beds.

“COVID was obviously a difficult time for our employees and our staff, and it was very stressful, especially for those people who were at the bedside, whether they were in that caregiver role or even housekeeping,” Mohr said. “It was still a very stressful time to watch those patients be here for months and months. Some of them left with their families and some of them didn't go home with their families.”

SSM Health St. Anthony Hospital — Shawnee President Angi Mohr asks hospital employees to place pinwheels in the flowerbeds to represent recovered COVID-19 patients.

Regional Director of Mission Integration Andrew Oochs also spoke, saying, “As we see these pinwheels flying in the Oklahoma wind, that should fill us with the great sense of hope, that great sense of awe of God's presence and of the patients we were able to heal and send home.”

As part of National Hospital and Health Care Week, the hospital had a moment of silence Monday in which they recognized the patients lost to COVID-19. Mohr said Wednesday's event, however, was about “joy and hope.”

“We're just planting these pinwheels for a sign of hope. Somebody asked earlier if the pinwheel was energy generating, and I said, 'No, it's hope generating.'”

Mohr said she hopes those who come in the hospital entrance – whether visitors or hospital staff – will see the pinwheels and think about how much good and care went on in the building and “be able to reflect on the good and try to move away from the bad.”

Gary Revas, director of respiratory care for the hospital, said the event with the pinwheels helped shed a positive light on things.

Hospital employees place pinwheels in honor of the local patients who recovered from COVID-19.

“For us, it just symbolizes all the hard work our staff and team did here to take care of patients over a very long 12 to 13 months,” he said.

Revas also mentioned that recently a former COVID-19 patient came back to the hospital for an out-patient test.

“We spent a long time with this patient back many months ago,” he said. “To see them recovered and moving in the right direction … It's wonderful.”

Looking at data for this area, Mohr said she thinks the community might be coming out the other side of the pandemic, though she said there's no telling what the fall holds.

“But right now, we're really going to try to focus on the positive,” she said.

She added that they are also trying to continue promoting the vaccines. The hospital's clinic has already given out 20,000 doses of the vaccine, Mohr said, which breaks down to 10,000 people who have received both doses. But with only about 30 percent of the population in Pottawatomie County vaccinated, she hopes that getting the other 70 percent to sign up might help the situation going into the fall.

“All of us have been vaccinated,” Mohr said. “I'm hoping what they see is that those of us who have gotten our vaccines, there's not really been a drastic, huge harm upon us.”

During National Hospital and Health Care Week, the Shawnee hospital had a moment of silence Monday to honor those impacted by the pandemic, Wednesday's event to honor those recovered with pinwheels, and plans to bring in food trucks for the health care workers Friday.

Hospital employees select pinwheels to place in the flowerbeds in front of the main entrance.

Tina Bridenstine is a reporter with The Shawnee News-Star. She can be reached at tina.bridenstine@news-star.com or 405-214-3934. Follow her on Twitter @tbridenstine1