COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Jessica Curtisi, 24, is a nurse at Ohio State Wexner Medical Center. Ever since she was moved to the ICU, she began holding the hands of COVID-19 patients who were quarantined, dying and alone.
“At the end of someone’s life, we hold their hands,” Curtisi shared. “I’ll kind of touch their forehead and I talk to them and make sure they know that they’re not alone. I tell them that they’re loved.”
In May, Curtisi was unable to hold Chuck’s hand when he died of a sudden heart attack at 81. Chuck is her grandfather.
“I was mourning my own grandfather, and I was mourning these patients, and I was feeling myself how hard it is to grieve and to find closure when you can’t say goodbye,” Curtisi said.
So she started painting.
“I started painting, because sometimes that helps me just express things or, kind of, I know, figure out what I’m feeling,” Curtisi said.
Her friend and co-worker Craig Dixon came up with an idea to sell t-shirts to raise money for the families of the patients whose hands they were holding and for the memory of the ones they couldn’t. Sales of the shirts will benefit the United Way COVID-19 Community Response Fund. Anyone who would like a shirt has to order by Nov. 20.
“It definitely makes me want to live as if any day could be the last. and it makes me want to treat others as if any day could be their last,” Curtisi said. “We don’t let anyone die alone. When family is not allowed to be present, we’ll be with them.”
For those on the withdrawal floor, it’s simply part of the code.
“I was there when no one else could be,” Curtisi said. “I was, and I believe that matters.”