Nursing Student Sends Paintings and Caring to COVID-19 Patients
Rhae Zito ’22 combines her love of nursing and art to bring hope to hospitalized COVID-19 patients.
Being stuck in the hospital with COVID-19 or another illness can be an isolating experience. Some patients never have a single visitor. That fact inspired Nursing major Rhae Zito ’22 (Red Lion, PA) to launch Strokes of Hope.
The initiative, which began in the fall of 2021, invites York College of Pennsylvania student and faculty artists to create paintings to be donated to York Hospital and given to patients with COVID-19.
“Supporting people in the hospital, especially [those] hospitalized with COVID, is very important,” Rhae says, “because I don’t think people realize how little interaction people who are hospitalized have with the outside world.”
Rhae, who works as a nursing assistant at York Hospital, has seen patients lose hope and sink into depression partly due to lack of socialization.
“Healing is both a physical and psychosocial process,” she says. “With the lack of socialization, I have personally seen patients dying from their illnesses. It makes them depressed and hopeless.”
Finding ways to bring hope
Rhae finds it rewarding to know she is bringing hope to her patients in a small way. For some patients, the paintings she delivers might be one of the last things they see before dying.
“I am glad that they were able to know that somebody cared, and somebody was thinking of them,” she says.
Beyond the gift of art, Rhae says anyone can write a simple electronic note to brighten a York Hospital patient’s day by visiting wellspan.org. The notes are delivered to patients’ rooms and read to them if they are unable to read them.
“I have seen the impact that these small acts have,” she says.
In the Spring 2022 Semester, Rhae is working on a new Strokes of Hope initiative that will allow people to support healthcare workers as well as hospital patients through artwork. Students and faculty who are interested can learn more by emailing Rhae at firstname.lastname@example.org or by messaging her on Instagram @rhaehope.
A shift in focus
Nursing wasn’t Rhae’s major when she started at York College. She entered as a pre-med student but soon found her true passion to be nursing.
“I love working with older patients,” she says, “but honestly, as long as I’m helping people, I’m happy.”
Upon graduating, Rhae hopes to work in an emergency department and eventually become a nurse practitioner. Wherever her career path leads, Rhae will continue to care for people.
“Every interaction with other people, even if they are a stranger, matters,” she says. “Providing hope to somebody is a matter of life or death, and it can be done in very small ways such as getting involved with something like this.”