At NewYork-Presbyterian Queens Hospital, staff are lifting the spirits of patients and their coworkers with music and reminding them that there “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.”
Each day, Kym Villamer, an assistant nurse manager and Dawn Jones, a patient experience lead at the hospital, make their rounds at the hospital and sing the famous song by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell, bringing joy to anyone that needs it during these challenging times.
“We feel like it’s a mountain that we’re trying to climb,” Villamer told “Good Morning America.” “Right now, it’s a climb -- it’s quite a climb. But we feel like if we do it all together, if we are in this together, it’s not going to be high enough to bring us down.”
Villamer and Jones, who have called their positive movement the “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough Tour,” initially came up with the idea to sing to each unit at NewYork Presbyterian Queens after the hospital had to convert their cafeteria pod into a space for their COVID patients. Before the opening of the new space, the two were asked to sing a song to bless it and decided to sing the 1967 hit song in front of their colleagues.
Now, they sing every day to all the different units as much as they can to boost the morale of everyone and has also been a way for Jones and Villamer to recharge during their challenging shifts at work.
They even find themselves singing in stairwells where their colleagues sometimes escape to during their breaks.
“A few people looked tired and we just started singing and they all stopped in the stairwell,” said Villamer.
“It’s definitely spontaneous, dropping by, asking the staff to come to the nurse’s station and join us for a song,” Jones told “Good Morning America.” “That’s what’s been happening.”
Jones has seen many changes in the past few months since the coronavirus pandemic hit, with many departments transforming into other centers of support for hospital staff who need it during this time.
In the past few weeks, Jones’s role at the hospital has shifted from not just caring for patients, but also making sure her colleagues are doing okay too, and working with the hospital’s donation center to make sure everyone is getting fed during their long work hours.
“It’s not what we were hired to do, but I feel like it’s a promotion because we’re giving people the essential needs of food, water, snacks,” said Jones. “We’re all doing each other’s jobs and helping out where we can.”
For Villamer, she’s been inspired by all that everyone has been doing at NewYork Presbyterian during the pandemic.
“I have a deepened respect for my colleagues, they have stepped up, they have been so resilient,” she said. “People are exhausted but you see them fight … Some people get sick with COVID, but they recover and come to work and serve the people and serve our patients.”
While it’s been difficult for everyone at the hospital, Villamer and Jones are making sure the message of “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” is helping patients and workers in each hospital unit get through each day and reminding them that they will “weather this storm.”
“This song can be a love relationship within the human spirit,” said Jones. “It’s no mountain, no valley, no river can get in the way of us getting to you. And that means us getting to you as our coworkers, whatever you need, how we can support you.”
“Also, there’s nothing that can get in the way of us getting to our patients, taking care of them,” she added. “There’s no obstacle too big that we can’t make it through.”