Both inside and outside hospitals across America, a certain sadness has hung heavy this past year. Now, reinforcements have started to arrive in the form of the COVID-19 vaccine.
As an anesthesiologist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Plymouth, Massachusetts, Dr. Ben Moor and his colleagues have worked to the brink of exhaustion. After receiving his second dose of the vaccine back in January, Dr. Moor began to wonder about the future.
"I really started thinking about what does this mean for me and the rest of society really," he explained said.
Dr. Moor started coming to the hospital after his work hours and visiting with COVID-19 patients. He and other volunteers aren't performing procedures. They're just spending time with sick patients.
"It really helps. The patients really respond to it, because they are lonely. Many are very anxious," Dr. Moor said.
Because of COVID-19, visitors still aren't allowed in most hospitals across the country, so instead of suffering in solitude, Dr. Moor is offering patients companionship.
"To hold their hand, to sit with them, just having the physical presence in the room, I think, has a huge importance," he said.
It’s all part of a program being called Vaccinated Volunteers, and the idea has resonated so deeply with Dr. Moor's colleagues that he now has a running spreadsheet of more than 45 volunteers who have been vaccinated that are willing to help.
It's an idea he hopes other hospitals will adopt moving forward.
"There is no reason why other places cannot run a program like this," Dr. Moor said.
Doctors and nurses volunteer on their own time and still dress in full PPE to be safe.
Oftentimes, Dr. Moor and his colleagues will even call the patient's family members on FaceTime.
"The thing I hadn’t anticipated is how desperate these families are for any kind of update," he explained.
It's unclear when visitors will be allowed back into hospitals again, so for now, this idea has become a critical lifeline for patients.