As of this past week, the walls of Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center are adorned with the images of DC Comics superheroes Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman and Warner Bros. icon Bugs Bunny. They all have been specifically created to thank local physicians, caregivers, and non-clinical staff by Warner Media artists.
The unveiling of the artwork, which took place in the medical center’s Healing Gardens, was led by Tom Ascheim, who serves as the president of Global Kids, Young Adults and Classics at Warner Bros., this past Wednesday morning. Employees from numerous departments attended the ceremony.
Revealing to the assemblage that he is a bit of a “black sheep” for having gone into the entertainment industry instead of the medical profession like many of his family members, Ascheim said that on behalf of everyone at Warner Bros. he wanted the caregivers and staff at Saint Joseph’s to know how much they are appreciated.
“We hold you all in such high esteem for what you do,” said Ascheim. “When it comes to properly expressing our gratitude to you, we are speechless, and at Warner Bros., when we’re speechless, we draw. We hope this art work will be a daily reminder that you are greatly appreciated and that they will make people smile when they see them.”
In accepting the art on behalf of the medical center, Kelly Linden, who serves as Saint Joseph’s chief executive, thanked both Warner Bros. and her staff.
“We’re very grateful to Tom, who now serves on our foundation board, and to the artists and everyone at Warner Bros. for recognizing what we do,” said Linden. “I could not be more thankful to them or proud of our doctors, nurses, caregivers and all of our staff members who stepped up and stepped forward to face the difficult challenges of this past year.”
While the newly donated artwork will be a daily reminder to all who work at the medical center that what they do is appreciated, it would be difficult to find anyone at Saint Joe’s who is more excited about it than Chris Rice, a registered nurse who serves as the nursing manager of the non-ICU COVID ward.
Proudly sporting a Batman mask, Rice found the donation of the art to be a convergence of two special worlds for him.
“When I was 11 years old, I got my first comic book — Detective Comics — and from that moment on, I was a huge Batman fan,” Rice said. “I became a true Batman nerd back when you had something to lose by being a nerd, as Stephen Colbert has said,” he added with a laugh.
Epically taken with an illustration of Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman standing behind six hospital workers, Rice said he has great respect for Saint Joseph’s neighboring studio, not just for creating his cape-crusading hero, but also for what they have done for the medical center.
“Warner Bros. has always been supportive of us, in so many ways,” said Rice. “This past year, they provided meals for many of our departments, and I’ve always had the feeling we are like partners. Their employees come here when they are in need of care, many of them have family members who work here, and back before the pandemic we did health clinics on the lot. So, for me, it’s as if we are really a part of one another’s community.”
As for getting back to a sense of normalcy after this difficult year, the partnering relationship between the studio and the medical center has proved to have a deeper significance than one may even imagine.
“Everyone at Warner Bros. is excited to see the light at the end of the tunnel of the pandemic,” said Ascheim. “We have productions back up and running here in Burbank and all over. I just had the opportunity to go through our tour center, which will be up and running again soon. We are back with a far greater appreciation of having Saint Joseph Medical Center so close to us, and a better understanding of the health and safety measures we can provide our employees and guests. In fact, I would say we have learned to operate somewhat like a hospital.”
DAVID LAURELL may be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or (818) 563-1007.