A few panes of glass near the front entrance to Ridge Meadows Hospital, and more recently the windows of a business in downtown Maple Ridge, have been decked out with a special tribute to the frontline workers.
Maple Ridge born and raised artist Caitlin Legault painted her depiction of what she calls “Our Healthcare Heroes,” thanking them for their efforts to battle COVID in one of the most potentially dangerous sites possible – the hospital.
“I wanted to help support my local frontline workers however I could. I think it is really beautiful to see how the [Ridge Meadows] Hospital Foundation continues to support its staff in creative ways. Art can be a ray of hope in during an uncertain time,” said the 35-year-old who has painted windows, murals, and faces for years.
In this case, she was simply asked to do something to thank and honour the heroes that work inside the hospital.
“Otherwise I was given creative freedom. I had so many ideas, but I also had a limited amount of time, so I had to come up with something strong. I thought about the hospital staff like a league of superheroes,” Legault said, noting it took her about nine hours to paint.
“I wanted to highlight the image of the strong and steadfast nurse, who was putting her own life on the line to protect the community. I wanted honour the large proportion of women and people of colour in the medical field. It was important to me to include the hospital cleaning staff and paramedics, as well. I also wanted to normalize the idea of wearing masks, this is why almost everyone in the image is wearing a mask. The bright red and white lettering was intended to grab the attention of everyone who passes by. I hope it brings confidence and strength to the staff and patients alike,” said Legault, who recently gave up her gigs as a full-time construction worker and part-time artist to focus on her new career in civil construction.
That said, she’ll always be an artist.
” I see art everywhere, even on the construction site,” she shared.
This project held special appeal for Legault, who noted she has several friends and family members who are on the frontlines.
“I would like to say that although the idea of Healthcare ‘Heroes’ is well intentioned, I believe the word can be problematic. It should be acknowledged that many of our frontline workers do not see themselves as heroes, as they are just trying to do their jobs and survive like the rest of us. It is true that it takes a certain type of individual to go into this line of work. Even before this pandemic, our frontline workers have dedicated their lives, sacrificing so much to help others. However, we must never forget that these ’heroes’ are humans too!
“Of course, a nurse will be far more desensitized than the average person, but nothing can prepare you for the potential onslaught of what this pandemic can bring. We continue to read about frontline workers who are suffering from PTSD. I hope that we can find meaningful ways to support our frontline workers and ensure they have the resources and equipment they need to fight this virus. Our global community stands in awe at the courage and vigilance displayed by our frontline workers, it is understandable that in our deepest gratitude we want to honour and thank them as heroes, I just feel it is important to acknowledge that even ‘heroes’ need our help! So stay home for them,” she pleaded.
Legault recently extended her thank you message a little further than the hospital.
She also more recently used those painting talents to share some love on the front windows of The News.
Artists wants hospice residents and staff to know they’re not alone
Meanwhile, more than a hundred hearts of different shapes, sizes, and colours adorn the windows of the McKenney Creek hospice residence in Maple Ridge, after a local artist used her talents to spread a togetherness message.
April Lacheur spent the better part of a day painting hearts on all the windows around the exterior of the hospice care centre, which is located on the Ridge Meadows Hospital campus off Laity Street.
“I wanted to find a way to bring joy, using art, to people in our community during this difficult time with the COVID 19 pandemic,” said Lacheur, a former hospice nurse who reached out to the Maple Ridge Community Foundation and in turn was connected with Ridge Meadows Hospice Society.
“We are seeing many people in our community, and communities around the world, putting hearts and rainbows in the window as an act of solidarity, love, and hope. It brings the message that ‘we are in this together’,” Lacheur said.
“When I have been walking around my neighbourhood and seen hearts in the window, I am reminded I am not alone. They bring me joy and I wanted to carry on that message using my own art.”
It took her about six hours to paint between five and 10 rainbow hearts on each of the entrance doors and windows, as well as the windows into each of the 10 different patients’ rooms.
“I wanted the staff, family, and residents to know they are not forgotten in this crisis. I think we all think about the families and patients who are directly affected by having COVID-19, but there are patients and families who are accessing other parts of the healthcare system, who are also affected,” Lacheur said.
Hospice is facing a “really hard time” right now. Daily visitors are limited, communal areas in the hospice are closed, volunteers are not allowed to come in to offer support.
“This makes for very stressed families, patients and staff,” Lacheur explained.
“I used to work as an RN in hospice and I know the supportive and positive experience with end of life care they are usually able to provide, and that is really restricted right now. I hope that the painting I did can bring a smile and a reminder the community has not forgotten about them and we are sending them love during this extra difficult time.”
People have shared pictures of Lacheur’s artwork, as well as shared messages saying her hearts bring them joy, said hospice executive director Lindsey Willis.
“It is especially appreciated by the staff in the hospice, as it reminds them how grateful we all are for the work they do with such compassion and dedication,” she said. “I am extremely grateful to see how a community comes together, the connections we all have, and how people have an innate desire to help.”
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