NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — As COVID rates increase, a new mural is inspiring hope at Elmhurst Hospital.

(credit: CBS2)

As CBS2’s Natalie Duddridge reported Monday, Queens artists Fernando Lechon unveiled his work of art titled “Elmhurst Strong” alongside health care heroes in the hospital’s lobby.

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“The beginning of the pandemic was dark, a confusing time. The mural story from the darkness to the brightness,” Lechon said.

He says the images in blue represent the sadness and loss at peak pandemic, and then flow into colorful images of hope, and symbols of diversity.

“We learned that we can’t do it alone,” said Rosa Negron of Elmhurst Hospital. “They community, they helped. They gave us strength.”


Health care workers spent days painting as a form of art therapy.

Elmhurst was among the hardest-hit hospitals in New York City at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. It was called the “epicenter of the epicenter,” surrounded by long lines for testing, and refrigerator trucks.

Staff worked long hours, isolated from their families as patients died in unprecedented numbers.

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(credit: CBS2)

“When  COVID hit, no one could’ve imagined how severe it was going to be, and how stressful it was going to be. EMT drivers pulling up, people lined up outside,” said Rick Luftglass, executive director of the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund.

Research shows that art heals. The hope is the mural will boost morale for patients and frontline care workers every time they walk in.

“This mural definitely represents the intensity of the care that we provided, the urgent need from our community,” said Carol White, associate executive director of Elmhurst Hospital.

“There are heroes throughout this building,” Luftglass said. “But it was hard, and there’s a lot of research that shows the arts can be healing.”

Now that they’ve been through it, frontline workers say they are better equipped for the months ahead.

It’s the first of ten murals being painted in NYC Health + Hospitals since the pandemic began.


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