Southwest General Unveils COVID-19 Treatment Storyboard Sculpture
Internationally-renowned sculptor David Deming and son Michael’s eight-piece sculpture depicts continuum of care during pandemic
Southwest General Health Center was founded in 1920 by local community residents in response to the Spanish Flu epidemic, which saw more than one in four people worldwide stricken with the disease.
Sound familiar? Fast forward one century. At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, Southwest General once again played a critical role in treating more than 3,700 confirmed COVID-19 patients. In recognition of this effort, in June 2021 Southwest General unveiled a dramatic, eight-panel storyboard sculpture created by internationally-renowned sculptor David Deming and his son, Michael, on the center wall of the main lobby of the hospital.
Wishing to thank the physicians, nurses, and team members who rolled up their sleeves and took on any task necessary to care for and treat COVID-19 patients, the medical executive committee at Southwest General met in late November 2020 to brainstorm ideas.
“We wanted to thank the many doctors, nurses, therapists, environmental team members, phlebotomists, tray carriers, and everyone associated with the entire spectrum of care during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Dr. Michael Deucher, a cardiovascular specialist and president of Southwest General’s medical staff. “Our committee, comprised of physicians, nurses, our CEO and leaders of our medical staff, wanted to show our mutual appreciation for everyone’s sacrifice and hard work in treating our patients, and to create a substantial image of what we all went through during COVID that the general public and our team members could visit and walk by for the next several decades.”
“We wanted to do more than just host an ice cream social to say thank you to the staff,” said Dr. Deucher.
After several brainstorming sessions, the Southwest General community reached out in February to Eileen Roth, longtime art curator for the hospital, for ideas on creating a symbolic piece of art to commemorate and thank team members. After surveying the space and capturing the essence of the request, Roth reached out to Deming and his son about the concept of creating a lasting tribute.
A longtime artistic contributor to Southwest General, Deming—whose dramatic sculptures are featured prominently in front of and in buildings throughout the world—readily agreed.
“My son, Michael, who is a very gifted sculptor, and I met with the Southwest General team; they showed us the prominent wall location, and provided valuable insight into what they wanted to convey to everyone who chipped in to help and treat COVID patients during the past year,” said Deming. “I felt that the storyboard concept might be really good because it would represent the entire healing process as well as all of the different people who were involved in the caregiving of COVID patients.”
Father and son have sculpted other dramatic pieces for Southwest General, including a tree filled with animals that is prominently displayed in a courtyard and Mike’s abstract aluminum piece on display in the atrium near the cafeteria.
“I sketched a storyboard depicting the entire continuum of care,” said Deming. “We presented the sketches to the Southwest General staff and then created the models in clay, producing plaster molds. We then cast the images in polyester resin fiberglass, allowing us to control the color and create a cast-iron look that fits very nicely with the wall color and the bank of lights.”
The father-son collaboration ultimately devised a dramatic wall-mounted storyboard of eight sculptures that were completed and hung in the main lobby of Southwest General earlier this spring. The eight sculptures capture the timeline of a COVID patient and family members, from the initial 911 call through treatment to the ultimate “Clap Out,” when the patient is finally cured and released from the hospital.
The plaque below the eight sculptures reads:
The Medical Staff of Southwest General Health Center would like to acknowledge and thank all Southwest General employees for their hard work and dedication in providing thoughtful and compassionate care to our patients and their families during the COVID-19 pandemic.
From April 1, 2020 through April 1, 2021, Southwest General treated more than 3,700 confirmed COVID-19 patients and grieved the passing of 139 patients who lost their lives to this virus. Through it all, you remained SOUTHWEST STRONG. Thank You!
David Deming, the former president of Cleveland Institute of Art, has sculpted portraits of sports stars and business leaders, including the iconic statue of Cleveland Browns great Jim Brown that stands outside First Energy Stadium.
“My interest in doing this sculpture ranks very high on my list of work because it will have an impact on staff and visitors alike and will serve as a lasting thank you to everyone who worked so hard during the pandemic,” said Deming.
Each of the eight panels conveys a different emotion.
The first panel, with the patient being brought into the hospital by ambulance, conveys a feeling of fear and panic.
The second panel depicts the worry and concern on the part of both the patient and the caregivers as the patient begins treatment.
The third panel, with family members unable to touch the patient through glass window panels, showcases the despair that many family members and patients felt during the pandemic.
The fourth panel, showcasing the treatment of the patient, depicts the amazing teamwork of the entire medical team on a typical day.
The fifth panel, opening a window into the harrowing work of the environmental services team cleaning and sterilizing a treatment room, shows off the professionalism and courage of every team member.
The sixth panel depicting a patient undergoing physical therapy, using angled handrails to learn to walk, shows the hope and possibility of recovery and getting ready for the next step.
The seventh panel is the dramatic “Clap Out” as the entire medical community, family members, and friends celebrate the patient’s release from the hospital.
The final panel, a large mirror with a heartfelt “Thank You Caregivers” message, provides a venue for each individual to look at his or her own image as someone who has cared for patients.
“David and Michael Deming have an emotional connection to Southwest General,” said Roth. “He was thinking out of the box to create a series of wall sculptures instead of a more traditional stand-alone piece. The last sculpture, the mirror, is intended to thank everyone—it’s you! Patients, caregivers, family members.”
“Southwest General CEO Bill Young has been so supportive of this project from the beginning, including the location of the artwork in our main lobby,” said Dr. Deucher.
Located in Middleburg Heights, Southwest General serves six community taxing districts as the community hospital. Roth has served as the hospital’s art curator for many years, developing an overall nature-based theme, focusing on utilizing art as a healing tool for the soul.
“Friday, June 11 was the first day since the outbreak began last March that we had zero COVID patients in the hospital,” said Dr. Deucher. “It was a day of celebration for all of us, we piped in ‘Happy’ by Pharrell [Williams] throughout the building.”
For more information, please contact Eileen Roth at firstname.lastname@example.org.
23600 Mercantile Road, Suite A
Beachwood, Ohio 44122
You must be logged in to post a comment.