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Lakeland Regional Health hang origami swans to honor its 13,000 COVID-19 patients

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Posted at 6:33 PM, May 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-13 22:35:10-04

LAKELAND, Fla. — Lakeland Regional Health is honoring its patients impacted by COVID-19 and recognizing its staff working tirelessly on the front line.

“Looking at the swans hanging there, it makes a huge impact of emotion,” said Regina Wilkins, Nursing Professional Governance Manager at Lakeland Regional Health.

The origami swans hanging on display at Lakeland Regional Health represent the more than 13,000 COVID-19 patients treated at the hospital since the beginning of the pandemic. As a managing nurse over the COVID-19 intensive care unit, Wilkins has been on the front line caring for those patients.

“It really represents how a lot of the healthcare team felt as we were rolling through the last year. It just felt like they just kept coming in and we were fighting so hard to take care of them and help them get better,” she said.

The origami swans are a way of honoring those patients. The white swans represent patients who recovered from the coronavirus and about 600 blue swans are to remember the lives lost.

The hospital’s Chaplain said the display is space needed to recognize not only patients, but the incredible care the medical team has provided.

“Seeing a tangible representation of each person that we’ve cared for. It can be overwhelming to see the number. To us those aren’t just numbers. Those aren’t just a piece of paper that’s folded into a swan. They are names and faces and people attached to every one of those,” said Holly Johnson, Staff Chaplain.

Members of the medical team, along with volunteers from schools, churches, and the community spent time making the swans. Some include a special handwritten note, thanking those on the front line. Wilkins hopes the display brings a feeling of resilience for hospital staff and the entire community.

“Despite all that we’ve gone through in the past year, we have made it through the past year. And we are here to see more white swans than we do blue swans,” she said.

The swans will be on display at Lakeland Regional Health for a few weeks for people visiting patients in the hospital. Then will be moved to the Polk Museum of Art so that the public can view them.