For Immediate Release October 12, 2023

Six people gather around artwork.

From left, at the unveiling of artwork at UM Shore Medical Center at Chestertown, are Deborah Pippin, pharmacy site coordinator and pharmacist, UM Shore Medical Center at Chestertown; Sherri Hobbs-Messick, Chief Quality, Safety and Experience Officer, UM Shore Regional Health (UM SRH); artist Ron Akins; John Schratwieser, Kent Cultural Alliance Director; Kelly Strannahan, Patient Experience Manager, UM SRH; and William Huffner, MD, Chief Medical Officer and Senior Vice President, Medical Affairs, UM SRH.

UM Shore Regional Health's Senior Leadership team recently hosted post-COVID luncheons for team members in each of the five counties UM SRH serves — Caroline, Dorchester, Kent, Talbot and Queen Anne's — to celebrate the World Health Organization declaring an end to the COVID-19 public health emergency earlier this year and to honor all team members who served during the pandemic as "caregivers."

The luncheons also served as a remembrance for those team members who gave the ultimate sacrifice during the pandemic and lost their lives, Calvin Molock, Jr. and Bronte Johnson. Family members of both Molock and Johnson attended the luncheon in Easton. Plaques honoring Molock and Johnson will be placed at UM Shore Medical Centers at Cambridge, Chestertown and Easton, as well as UM Shore Medical Pavilions at Denton and Queenstown.

"COVID made us here at Shore, and health care teams and community members everywhere, realize very quickly how nimble and course-corrective we had to be as new information on COVID came to light," said William Huffner, MD, Chief Medical Officer and Senior Vice President, Medical Affairs, UM SRH. "There were a lot of unsung heroes during COVID, but especially infection prevention teams everywhere, who helped us address the changes as they came," added Dr. Huffner, who served as Incident Commander for UM SRH during the COVID-19 pandemic and gave opening remarks at some post-COVID celebration luncheons. "We all are just so appreciative of everyone who stepped up to help our caregivers and communities during this challenging time and these luncheons are just a small token of our appreciation for our team's dedication."

Artwork honoring "health care heroes" also was unveiled during the post-COVID luncheons in Cambridge, Chestertown, Easton and Queenstown.

During fall 2022, Kelly Strannahan, Patient Experience Manager at UM SRH, reached out to the Kent Cultural Alliance with an idea of how to honor the commitment of UM SRH team members and health care workers to the communities UM SRH serves in a meaningful and permanent way. The Kent Cultural Alliance proposed having a competition to create mural-size artwork for each UM SRH facility in each county and collaborated with arts councils in Dorchester, Talbot and Queen Anne's counties, working with each to select an artist from their county to complete the commission. Each artist was provided with canvasses, made possible with the support of The Finishing Touch in Chestertown, and the result is four stunning original murals celebrating health care heroes throughout our region.

In Dorchester County, the artist is Miriam Moran, for Talbot County, the artist is Kevin Garber, and in Queen Anne's County, then-high school senior Claire Parker was selected. In Kent County, the honor was given to Paul Santori, who early on in the pandemic had a severe case of COVID and was hospitalized at UM Shore Medical Center at Chestertown. Sadly, Paul succumbed to a non-COVID related health issue in winter 2023. His wife, Inez Santori, made the decision in conversation with Kent Cultural Alliance Director John Schratwieser to transfer the commission to Paul's dear friend, Ron Akins. Paul had sketched his ideas while lying in the hospital for several weeks before his death. With Inez's support, Ron was able to realize Paul's vision for the mural.

UM Shore Medical Pavilion at Denton was recently added to the list of commissioned artwork locations and work is underway to have a local artist, Nicholas Tindall, represented in that space.

Each of the county arts councils provided a stipend of $1,250 for their respective artist, and this stipend was supported in part by Kent County's Hedgelawn Foundation. The five arts councils receive funding from the Community Arts Development program of the Maryland State Arts Council, which receives financial support from the National Endowment for the Arts.

"It was a great honor to be asked to be involved in honoring our health care heroes at five UM Shore Regional Health facilities on the Eastern Shore," said Schratwieser. "With the support of the directors of our five county arts councils and The Hedgelawn Foundation, we were able to commission five new murals — from gifted artists — to recognize and celebrate our dedicated health care professionals. The positive impact of the arts in any health care environment is well-documented for patients and their recovery. We believe it can also contribute to the well-being of health care workers. On behalf of our artists and my colleagues across the Shore, we extend our gratitude to those who gave so much in the interest of public health."