Arts in Medicine creates signs of support for UAB Medicine “heroes”

Artists with UAB AIM are telling health care workers, from nurses and physicians to environmental services and facilities staff, they are grateful for the work they continue to do.

UAB Arts in Medicine is creating signs of support for all of UAB Medicine’s heroes, to let them know they are grateful for the work they continue to do. From nurses and physicians to environmental services and facilities staff, they are working tirelessly to care for patients and keep the environment clean and safe, says Kimberly Kirklin, director of AIM.

AIM’s artists-in-residence Elizabeth Vander Kamp, Haleigh Black, Helene Taylor, Lauren Edwards, Lillis Taylor, Valerie Hanks and Kim McKenzie have painted the signs at home. The inspirational messages and cheerful colors and designs are a welcome respite. AIM invites people to create their own messages of gratitude or support and use the hashtag #uabmedicineheroes to share them on social media.

“When I think of the staff I know all over UAB Hospital ­— from Guest Services to the Maintenance crew, to EVS, to the medical teams — I wish so much I could be there to help,” Vander Kamp said. “Since being there would not help, sending support and love and color through artwork on posters hopefully will. I am awed by how hard these people work in typical times. I can only imagine how much they are doing now. A poster saying thank you seems the least I could do.” 

“I so miss working side by side with staff, day to day, to care for UAB’s patients,” Taylor said. “We want the whole of UAB hospital’s staff to know that we’re thinking of them and that we support them during this scary, difficult time. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so I hope these simple signs will not only brighten days for all who see them, but also show that we are thinking of them and holding them up the best way we know how.”

“How can we best convey unified messages of thankfulness, gratitude and adoration for every staff person serving our community through selfless hours of kindness, hard work and dedication to thousands of individuals?” Hanks said. “Through simple, yet colorful graphics, I was inspired to shout out these messages on visuals to remind staff of our continued prayers, love and support that flow constant every single day! Thank you from the bottom of our hearts! Always remember we are here cheering you on!”

“I am beyond proud to be part of a community that continues to offer comfort and support inside the hospital no matter what,” Black said. “I hope every staff person feels appreciated and loved when looking at our poster-sized love letters.”

“With each of these posters, I hope the UAB staff feels the love and support we are sending from the outside,” Taylor said. “It pains us not to be available to help more during this time when the staff needs it the most. We hope the simple acts bring you joy and peace.  

Through a collaboration with the Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center and UAB Medicine, UAB Hospital is one of the first hospitals in Alabama to have a formal Arts in Medicine program. AIM focuses on the needs of the whole person: mind, body and spirit. AIM includes both interactive and passive arts experiences, which can include bedside and workshop activities, or performances and visual art installations in public spaces.

Research on the arts and health has indicated that arts programs may boost the moods of patients and their families by reducing perceived pain, anxiety and stress. In turn, that could contribute to a reduction in medication use, a quicker recovery and a shorter hospital stay. 

AIM offers programs in painting, drawing, sewing, storytelling, theater, writing, music, guided meditation, and dance and movement, and its artists-in-residence are able to tailor programs to individual specific needs.