By Barbara Goldberg
NEW YORK (Reuters) – The most powerful medicine being used to bolster the morale of New York area healthcare workers at the epicenter of the U.S. novel coronavirus crisis may well be music.
Daily infusions of upbeat songs from The Beatles’ classic “Here Comes the Sun” to the theme from the hang-tough movie “Rocky” are being pumped through hospital public address systems to boost the spirits of nurses, doctors and support staff.
About 545,000 people were diagnosed with COVID-19 in the United States as of Sunday, and roughly 21,600 have died of the highly contagious illness.
A 4:30 p.m. daily dose of Australian pop singer Starley’s “Call On Me” has given strength to staff at one of Mount Sinai’s hospitals in New York City, who clap as a growing number of patients are discharged from the overwhelmed facility across the street from Columbia University.
“Some people would say to accept their fate. Well if this is fate then we’ll find a way to cheat,” Starley sings. “You know you can call on me, if you can’t stop the tears from falling down.”
In New Jersey, the “Rocky” theme song filled the air at St. Joseph Regional Medical Center in Paterson when Dr. James Pruden, the hospital’s director of emergency preparedness, was discharged last week as he recovered from the virus, rolling in his wheelchair past cheering staff.
On New York’s Long Island, the joyful “Here Comes the Sun” blasts overhead on the public address system at Mount Sinai South Nassau in Oceanside every time a COVID-19 patient is discharged.
In Detroit, one of the newest U.S. hot spots for the fast-spreading disease, a Beaumont Health nurse said the 1969 Beatles hit was played not just when patients are discharged but each time they are taken off a ventilator to breath on their own.
“The smiles returning to the faces. Little darling, it seems like years since it’s been here,” rings out the song that George Harrison wrote about renewal after a long, dark winter.
(Additional reporting by Herbert Lash and Jonathan Allen in New York; Editing by Tom Brown)