Healing HeARTs logoTricia McQuade, a security officer in Police, Security and Outside Services at Massachusetts General Hospital, was assigned to the Gray Lobby entrance last spring at the peak of the coronavirus surge at the hospital. “I would greet people every day and I could see they were in despair, so I would tell ‘dad jokes’ or say silly things to try to lift people’s spirits,” she says. “As we approach the second wave and with holidays approaching, I can see people started to head back in the direction of despair. The holidays are often tough and with people not able to see their family this year, people’s mental health could really be negatively affected.”

To lift her own spirits, McQuade writes and reads poetry. When McQuade was asked to present at a recent Mass General storytelling event featuring front line staff, an important connection was formed. Debbie Burke, RN, senior vice president of Nursing & Patient Care Services and chief nurse, was moved by McQuade’s performance and the pair discovered a shared interest in poetry and began exchanging poems via email, leading to a discussion about the importance of expression during the uncertain times.

Burke says, “The Mass General community is full of creative and talented people. We saw a need for a space for our staff to process and share their experiences during these extraordinary times through their art, whether it be through poetry, painting, video or photography.”

Burke reached out to Suzanne Koven, MD, primary care physician and Mass General writer-in-residence, and together Healing HeARTs was born.

Employees are invited to submit their work on the Healing HeARTs Apollo page. A living album will be featured on the Apollo site and works will be featured in future editions of Hotline.

Healing HeARTs: Tricia McQuade