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West Boca Medical Center ICU nurse heals others through art depicting 2020

'It was done out of love,' Jan Henry-Blanton says of beads on canvas
Jan Henry-Blanton, ICU nurse at West Boca Medical Center
Posted at 6:54 AM, Apr 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-26 07:39:38-04

PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla.  — A picture is worth a thousand words. In this case, that's definitely true. Jan Henry-Blanton, a nurse of 34 years at West Boca Medical Center, is using art to heal.

"It was tough. It was really tough in the beginning," she said as she placed beads on a canvas and reflected on the year 2020. "It was done out of love, you know."

She thinks of the patients they saved.

"Every time patients left, you would hear this song come on," Henry-Blanton said.

She also remembers those they lost.

"But we did everything that we could," she said.

Henry-Blanton is among those who worked with COVID-19 patients in the intensive care unit at West Boca Medical Center.

Now, she spends her hours getting those memories to stick.

beads on canvas art by Jan Henry-Blanton
"It was done out of love, you know," Jan Henry-Blanton says of her beads on canvas artwork.

"It's almost like a meditative state, really," she said as she did art. "It's cathartic, just getting out some those feelings of anxiety. I just want them to remember the care."

The struggles, the challenges and the teamwork come to mind when you look at the completed project.

"I immediately got goose bumps," Wendy Bradley, director of the ICU at West Boca Medical Center, said. "I said, 'Oh my gosh, who made these pictures? They are incredible.'"

Bradley said she expects nothing less from one of her top nurses.

beads on canvas artwork with West Boca Medical Center sign in background
West Boca Medical Center plans to display the art in a main area of the hospital for all those who enter to see.

"A lot of memories came rushing back. A lot of lives lost. A lot of lives saved," she said as she described looking at the bead art. "In the beginning, there was just so much fear and anxiety in everyone, and just all those memories came rushing back."

Henry-Blanton said really anyone can do this bead art, but the final product is a display of dedication to health-care workers, her hospital and the reason nurses do what they do. It's all for the patients, she said.

"We care about people and the compassion and we were there, you know, for the families, and that means a lot to me," Henry-Blanton said.

West Boca Medical Center plans to display the art in a main area where everyone can see it as they enter the hospital.