ER nurse keeps COVID-19 patients and loved ones connected through pictures

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Wednesday, May 20, 2020
Action News coverage of the coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak

LOWELL, Massachusetts (WPVI) -- An emergency room nurse is helping patients hospitalized with COVID-19 stay connected with loved ones who can't visit.

Jeanna Barbieri started Pictures for Patients at her hospital, Lowell General, in Lowell, Massachusetts.

Barbieri got the idea to print out family photos for patients when a friend couldn't visit his father, who was seriously ill from coronavirus.

Despite her 12-hour days, she felt the need to do something on her days off.

"I'm so used to being active all the time," she told us.

So she bought an inexpensive photo printer, got the hospital's OK, and began her project.

Pictures for Patients has gotten a lot of national attention since it started.

Now, barely 2 months later, Barbieri just made her 40th delivery - each one deeply appreciated.

"An elderly woman was the patient, and on a Sunday, I got her pictures to her. And on Monday, she passed away. and the family was so beyond grateful," Barbieri recalls.

She still stays in touch with the family.

"They buried her with the pictures that were printed, because they loved, they felt that it helped her let go," she adds.

Barbieri, a graduate of the nursing program at Endicott College, says she will continue printing the pictures as long as there's a "no visitor" policy at her hospital.

She's established a crowdfunding site, with all the proceeds going back into supplies for the printing.