You are not alone: Ottawa Hospital nurse’s video singing to ICU patients during COVID-19 goes viral

By Dani-Elle Dubé

Standing in a hallway at the Ottawa Hospital in the doorway of an ICU patient’s room — dressed in her scrubs, mask on and guitar in hand — endoscopy nurse Amy-Lynn Howson strums her guitar as she softly sings, “You Are Not Alone.”

It’s been a rough go as Ottawa and its nurses ride the third wave of COVID-19.

With patients coming and going through the hospital’s revolving doors, it can get lonely at times — isolating, even — but Howson is doing what she can to help lift the spirits up of patients and fellow front line workers at the Ottawa Hospital.

And she does so by singing some of her original songs to patients who find themselves alone in their hospital beds, without family by their side.

“It’s the most fulfilling thing I could ever do,” Howson told CityNews Ottawa. “I know they’re being allowed to feel something that they need to feel — that they’ve not been letting themselves process whatever it is they’re going through. And I know that I’m doing my job if they’re able to have a private moment to feel something and process emotionally what they’re going through.”

Howson’s journey started back in 2017 where she had worked as a nurse for about a year before leaving to attend music college in Memphis.

Her music has even brought her on tour with a Nashville non-profit organization.

When COVID-19 hit, however, she decided to come back home to Ottawa to be closer to family — and when she did, she went right back to nursing.

For Howson, being a nurse allows her to tap into her many talents.

“I love using my brain,” she said. “I love solving problems, learning news things. Especially in endoscopy, it’s a privilege to help people get through a vulnerable time in their lives.”

Howson first got the idea of singing to patients when she was on a medical mission trip in Iraq in 2017, where she saw a co-worker doing the same.

When she came back to Ottawa, she thought she’d give it a go at Ottawa’s Mission, where she played music to hospice patients.

Then when she came back to the Ottawa Hospital, she brought out her guitar around the holidays and started to sing to patients then.

But it wasn’t until earlier this week when Howson pulled out her old friend again and brought back her musical musings to patients when she was redeployed to the ICU.

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