Local Artist Creates Moving Portraits of Nurses & Other Health Care Workers Working on the Front Lines of the COVID-19 Pandemic

06.29.2021

HONOLULU – Hawaii artist Jaime de Jesus was inspired to honor Hawaii’s nurses by putting his talent to work and creating beautiful and moving portraits of nurses working during the COVID-19 pandemic.

When de Jesus came up with the idea of painting portraits of local nurses as a way to thank them for their strength and sacrifice – his wife, Mary Boland, suggested he partner with The Queen’s Medical Center, Hawai‘i’s only Level 1 Trauma Center and Hawaii’s oldest hospital founded in 1859.

Today, de Jesus’ portraits were unveiled at an event at The Queen’s Medical Center where nurses, de Jesus, and officials from the UH Manoa School of Nursing and Dental Hygiene were on hand to see the finished products.

“I wanted to find a special way to thank our nurses for everything they have done for their patients during the pandemic,” said de Jesus. “I want our nurses and health care workers to know they are appreciated. I used my talent to recognize the hardworking men and women who provide wonderful care for our community and their patients. Hearing their stories and their experiences in the COVID-19 units helped me bring them to life on paper.”

Katherine Finn Davis, UH Manoa School of Nursing and Dental Hygiene’s COLs Marshall & Miller Director of Community Partnerships helped connect de Jesus with the nursing leadership team at Queen’s-Punchbowl to identify new and experienced nurses working in direct patient care with COVID-19 patients. He wanted to focus on the frontline nurses and to capture them in the moment - wearing full personal protective equipment (PPE) between caring for patients.

The 37 nurses and other health care workers featured in de Jesus’ collection have an array of experience, but many of the nurses have been at Queen’s for most of their careers. Some have more than 40 years of experience while others have been nurses for only a few years. All have been greatly impacted by COVID-19, and have made huge personal sacrifices in the fight against the virus.

“We cannot thank Jaime enough for his gesture of kindness to our nurses,” said Jill Hoggard Green, PhD, RN, Chief Executive Officer and President of The Queen’s Health Systems.  “These portraits bring to life the people behind the masks providing compassionate care to all of our patients.  Our nurses are an integral part of our care team and we are constantly inspired by their creativity and innovation.  We also recognize the toll the pandemic has had on all of our staff, including our nurses.  We appreciate them immensely for their hard work and commitment to ensuring we are providing the highest level of care to our patients.”

“Our nurses are our true heroes who have demonstrated determination in the face of a pandemic,” said Kelly Johnson, PhD, RN, NEA-BC, Chief Nursing Officer of The Queen’s Health Systems.  “Our more than 2,000 nurses across our health system are exceptional caregivers who take great pride in what they do.  These portraits serve as a great way to recognize them for their efforts.”

“It was a scary time in the beginning since the virus was so new and we were all learning,” said Shauna Nishimura, a nurse with over 20 years of experience in the Medical Intensive Care Unit (MICU) at The Queen’s Medical Center.  “But the teamwork in the MICU is amazing.  We are always looking out for each other and that is what has helped us get through this pandemic.”

“I love being a nurse and helping our community,” said Anthony “Tony” Zanni, a nurse in the Emergency Department at The Queen’s Medical Center for 16 years.  “Our patients need us to provide that care for them.  It gives me great satisfaction when I see my patients get healthy and be able to go home.  That’s when I know I made a positive difference in their lives.”

Born and raised in Manila, Philippines, de Jesus received his Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia and completed graduate work in Illustration at Syracuse University. de Jesus works with oils, watercolor, gouache, and graphite. He retired in 2013 and enjoys drawing and painting. His life’s best accomplishment is marrying his wife and having two wonderful daughters. He has strong personal ties to the nursing community and has seen firsthand the dedication, compassion, and commitment of nurses. Jaime is the husband of Mary Boland, the Dean of the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa School of Nursing and Dental Hygiene.

The portraits were presented to the nurses as a gift from de Jesus. A virtual art gallery is now available online at http://go.hawaii.edu/6bP

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