During the morning commute on Wednesday, May 6, VITAS Healthcare employees and volunteers turned purple and white paint into a very visible sign of support for Gainesville’s nurses. A section of the wall transformed over three hours into a giant purple sign of gratitude reading “VITAS ❤️ NURSES – THANK YOU!” VITAS, a hospice provider in Gainesville since 2018, chose the creativity and immediacy of community art to create a colorful, public “thank you” for local nurses who are providing care on the front lines during the COVID-19 pandemic. Serving as an ever-colorful, open-palette community bulletin board for residents and businesses in this college town, the wall is located near major Gainesville hospitals—North Florida Regional Medical Center and the University of Florida. “We were there at 8 a.m., and people were honking as they drove by,” says Crystal Robinson, Director of Market Development for VITAS Nature Coast. “It was an awesome experience. The whole point was for us to show our thanks by putting a little sweat equity into it.
The VITAS graffiti team included four staff members, a staff member’s husband, and Robinson’s daughter and her friend, both 14. “We want our community nurses to know that we care,” Robinson says. “If there’s anything we can do for them, whether it’s hospice-related or not, they can just ask. Our staff members come from varied backgrounds and specialties from which we can help, and if we’re not the right fit, we’ll put them in touch with someone who is.”