Funded by the Foundation of Yuma Regional Medical Center, the memorial will provide a comforting place and permanent reminder for families, friends and staff members to reflect on their memories, challenges and triumphs during that unprecedented time.
The memorial will feature an internally lit art structure and will be surrounded by seating and serene desert landscaping. The structure will hold more than 800 laser-cut stars, casting twinkling stars on the ground at night. Each star represents a life lost to COVID-19, a nod to the temporary memorial created in 2020.
During the first wave of the pandemic, ICU staff members created a star tribute wall as a way to honor each patient who passed from COVID-19. This simple acknowledgment provided staff with a place to mourn the great loss our community felt. The pandemic propelled health care teams into a frightening and challenging environment, and the makeshift memorial helped them process the immense loss and devastation they were feeling.
“We’ll never forget the stories of being a beloved family member or holding the hands of patients as they took their last breath,” said Cathleen Wolff, director of Spiritual Care. “We’ll never forget how we, the YRMC family, held on to each other when we cried.”
The new permanent memorial not only serves as a spot for the community to pay respects, but also gives families who could not be with their loved ones during their final moments a place to find closure.
“This memorial is a way for us to honor and remember patients, staff, neighbors and friends lost during the pandemic,” says Dr. Robert Trenschel, YRMC President and CEO. “It will also provide a meaningful place for the community and our care teams to process the tragedy of the past, but find healing and hope for the future.”
This memorial is a continuation of YRMC’s COVID memorial efforts. In 2021, the organization partnered with the faith community and local radio station Z93 for a week-long “Unite with Light” event, supporting grieving families, patients and those who were still fighting the virus. This event provided a designated time for the community to come together and process the great impact the pandemic had on their lives.
The new memorial will break ground in May 2023 and is expected to be complete this winter.