The nurses would give updates to the man's family, who were holding a vigil in the parking lot, through messages taped to the window.
Editor’s note: This article was originally published on May 22, 2020. It has since been updated.
The health crisis in the US has become one of epic proportions, with almost 100,000 deaths, but even in these bleak times, there come stories of hope. The little gestures of ordinary people to boost the morale of those on the frontlines and of their loved ones are not going unnoticed. Humans, far and wide, are showing just how amazing and good they can be in these trying times by doing good for others.
One family from Manchester, New Hampshire was recently devastated by the loss of their father but during their patriarch's hospitalization, their ray of hope was the nurses. In many places, the frontline workers like the nurses, medics, and doctors are risking their lives to care for patients due to lack of personal protective equipment (PPE). Many have even lost their lives to the virus that is holding countries at hostage.
The Johnson family from Manchester spent almost two weeks outside the Catholic Medical Center since Rene Johnson was admitted there. His five children and their families set up camp in the parking lost to show support to the beloved dad, according to ABC News.
Unfortunately, the family couldn't be by Rene's side during this difficult time due to restrictions but they developed a bond with the nurses who came to the window every single day to update the family about his condition. They would tape signs on the window with messages like, "We will make sure he's comfortable and in no pain," "We will tell him you love him" and "We will hold his hand". The family would read the signs and feel assured that their father was being taken care of.
The family also made their own sign to thank the people who were taking care of their dad with "Thank you, nurses" messages. "Every day, we would just try to do a little something different," said Angela Daneault, Rene's daughter. "Yesterday morning, me and brother went and had breakfast in the park to try and feel close to our dad.
"They’re kind of famous with our staff. Everyone would come in and say, ‘Is the family there?’ And everyone would go to the window and wave," nurse Lynn Harkins told WMUR.
Unfortunately, their beloved dad, Rene, passed away on May 17. The nurses had an assuring message for the family even then. The staff from the hospital left messages saying, "He is at peace" and "We are so sorry," as per PEOPLE. The photo of two nurses, one with her hand on the glass and another making a heart with her hands, has gone viral.
TOUCHING: Handwritten notes from the nurses in the intensive care unit at Catholic Medical Center in Manchester, New Hampshire, broke the news Sunday to the five children of Rene Johnson that their father had died from COVID-19. https://t.co/3BRm169LEL— 23 WIFR (@23WIFR) May 20, 2020
The family went back the next day to show support for the nurses even though their dad died. Rene's son Kevin was very touched by their gesture. He said, "Words can’t tell you enough what these people did for my father. I really consider them really lucky to be able to hold my old man’s hand when I really wish I could’ve held his hand and kissed him,” he told ABC News. "They’re the heroes in this. I just can’t believe what they did for us, and I’ll just never forget it. Just thank you from the bottom of my heart."
The Johnson siblings have been keeping a vigil in the parking lot for days and they do this to bring the focus to the frontline workers. "I just really want this to be about the nurses," Kevin told WMUR. "They just went beyond."
One of the ICU nurses Kaitlyn Kerrigan also said that they told Rene, just like they tell other patients, that they are loved. "We are here for them. We hold their hands and tell them -- everything they tell us to tell them, we tell our patients," she added.
The family went through a difficult time and they empathize with those suffering inside the hospital alone. "There's people in there that really need somebody," Kevin said. "I'm going to make signs. We're going to give the food. They're going to see balloons."