Reggie Cuerton, 50, spent one week at UH Samaritan Medical Center isolated and with plummeting oxygen levels wondering if he would heal.
“I had double pneumonia. It was a reason why I couldn’t breathe,” Cureton said. “I met all the criteria, big man, African-American, high blood pressure diabetes, asthmatic. I was pretty scared.”
University Hospitals Connor Integrative Health Network offers virtual music therapy sessions through satellite units equipped with iPads wheeled to COVID-19 patients’ rooms.
The goal of the music therapy session is to reduce isolation, anxiety and stress that can come with a COVID-19 diagnosis along with improving a patient’s physical health.
“The first time I saw a COVID patient through the virtual I was very nervous,” said Angel Foss, lead music therapist at UH Good Samaritan Medical Center. “How am I gonna be able to help this person? What is this going to be like? It was different and it was scary to see what Reggie was going through.”
Cureton began music therapy on his third day as a patient.
“We sung everything: hymns, reggae. And I’m a minister,” Cureton said. “It gave me joy.”
Foss said at one time, the medical center was about 60 to 70 percent filled with COVID-19 patients.
“He was just singing at the top of his lungs and it amazed me someone with COVID whose oxygen was so low and he was just singing away,” she said.
Cureton said the sessions helped him turn away from negative thoughts, and embrace the idea he would recover and return home to his family.
“I think you know music has a way of giving you hope,” he said. “It really pepped me up. I can’t say enough about how my mood changed.”
“They brought an element that was just as good for my soul, just as any medicine, it was a medicine.”