Lee Health welcomes back volunteers after keeping them away due to COVID

Published: April 15, 2021 5:05 PM EDT
Updated: April 18, 2021 9:22 PM EDT

Tom Palmershein is not the first person you see when you walk into HealthPark Medical Center, but he is definitely the first you hear.

Palmershein is one of the many volunteers that were welcome back to the hospital since COVID-19 sent them home over a year ago. Also back are guitar players, officer workers and trolley drivers.

Playing the piano is his passion. And no matter where he is, Palmershein plays like he is at Carnegie Hall.

“It’s a thrill to be able to play here,” Palmershein said.

Palmershein welcomes people with the sounds of his piano keys in the lobby of HealthPark.

“It’s lovely,” he said. “Most clubs I worked in aren’t this pretty, I’ll tell ya.”

Palmershein has been volunteering at the hospital for 20 years. He plays every Thursday from 10 to 11 a.m.

“I know the people who come here are usually visiting sick people, and you just try to play happier music,” Palmershein said.

The music stopped though, along with everything else, when COVID-19 arrived and overwhelmed hospitals and health care workers. Volunteers had to go.

“Oh, it was heartbreaking because they dedicate their lives to come and share their talent and skills,” said Doug MacGregor, Arts and Healthcare coordinator for Lee Health.

A year later, Palmershein’s talent and skills are back.

“Most people just walk by but if they smile and give me a thumbs up or something as they go by it makes my day,” he said. “It’s like everything in this world, you get more out of it than you give.”