TORONTO -- The sound of music can be heard once again in the atrium of Credit Valley Hospital in Mississauga after a lull due to COVID-19 thanks to front-line staff members who have stepped up to the piano.

“When the pandemic hit, the music just stopped,” said Letizia Cheung, a radiation therapist at the hospital. “It stopped, the volunteering stopped, all of our volunteers are not allowed to be in the hospital.”

Prior to the pandemic, more than 50 volunteer musicians made up Trillium Health Partners’ ‘Music of Healing and Hope’ program, which allowed them to take turns playing for patients in the hospital lobby. Like so many other programs, it was put on hold back in March.

Piano, Trillium Health Partners

“When COVID hit, understandably they had to limit the number of people coming into the hospital and that unfortunately included the volunteers,” Dr. John You told CTV News Toronto.

“When we closed the program, it was quiet. It was eerie,” says Diana Gawel, volunteer resource administrative assistant at Credit Valley Hospital.

“But, now that these four musicians have stepped up to the plate, they have truly changed the atrium and brought a sense of togetherness back.”

Those four musicians are health-care workers already in the hospital, now volunteering their time and talents to performing on their lunch breaks. Cheung says she missed hearing the piano in the atrium and reached out to the hospital to ask if she could play.

credit valley hospital, piano

“It’s a really trying time and I just wanted to give back to the community,” Cheung told CTV News Toronto. “I haven’t played since I was a teenager, but I thought if I can play piano and bring music back to the atrium, I thought I’d try!”

“I thought, what a great idea to open it up to all of Trillium Health Partners and see if there’s any staff member talent out there,” Gawel said. “The people that have answered the call here at Credit Valley have really stepped up and performed in the atrium for everyone and it’s been such a heartwarming experience to be a part of that.”

Dian Ramnarine, an operating room nurse at Credit Valley Hospital who has been playing the piano during the pandemic, says she has noticed a change in the atrium since the music started up again.

“It was so quiet. You noticed the difference with the absence of the music,” she said. “Now you have people commenting how wonderful it is to have the music back. They like to sit and listen to it and it brings them a kind of comfort and peace.”

Credit Valley Hospital, piano

“I have tears in my eyes when I think about it because I’ve seen patients come down and enjoy,” Gawel said. “A lot of people are very appreciative for the break in their lives. It’s been such a heartwarming experience to be a part of that.”

You said that getting the opportunity to play the piano at work has been just as rewarding for him as it has been for those listening.

“It’s a chance to get away a little bit. To reconnect with something beautiful,” he added. “Music is a universal language, so it’s hopefully a way to connect with other humans who are going through difficult times.”