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Salem Hospital Dedicates New COVID Sculpture
10/13/2023

SALEM, MA – Salem Hospital dedicated a new sculpture on its grounds Thursday, commemorating patients and families who were impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, and honoring its heroic healthcare workers who cared for the community during this historic and extremely difficult time.

Dedication of new COVID sculpture

The sculpture, which is located in the courtyard outside the entrance to the emergency department, consists of three spiral pillars. Officials say they hope it will serve as a place of reflection for the entire Salem Hospital family and a reminder of the vital role we all play in caring for one another.

“When the world was facing fears, and so much uncertainty about exactly what we were dealing with, this team…rose up with compassion, courage and such a dedication to care for patients,” said president and chief operating officer Roxanne Ruppel, “I hope this space, and these sculptures really instill pride in what were able to do together.”

During the first wave of the outbreak in 2020, Salem Hospital had more COVID inpatients than any community hospital in the state. In response, several medical units were converted to COVID ICUs to care for the sickest patients, outpatient COVID clinics and testing centers were created, while robust community outreach services were put into place to support prevention, care and vaccination efforts.

“In healthcare we're witness to human suffering and traumatic events and we’re often alone in that suffering and what we witness, and to gather here today to see such wonderful colleagues allows us to not be alone,” added Dr. Adrienne Allen, senior medical director at North Shore Physicians Group.

COVID sculpture at Salem Hospital

Salem Hospital was also the site of Mass General Brigham's first COVID sub-unit expressly for mental health patients and their unique needs.

“...As we grew and learned in our new environment; fear, pain, and sorrow were tempered by knowledge, skill, and most of all collaboration,” said Dan Slack, director of nursing emergency services.

Dr. Patrick Gordan, chairman of the department of medicine, also spoke to the gathered attendees and shared reflections from his team. “We bore witness to this history and have a collective responsibility to remind, less our society forget, that this actually happened,” he said.

Patient and survivor John Akatyszewski, the owner of Ziggy's Donuts in Salem and Peabody, graciously donated refreshments as part of the dedication.