UVM Medical Center Unveils ‘Hearts and Hands’ Sculpture
Work by artist Jim Sardonis honors UVM Medical Center employees’ dedication and care throughout COVID-19 Pandemic
Burlington, Vt. – The dedication, compassion and bravery of health care workers is on display every day at UVM Medical Center – and now the region’s only tertiary care and academic medical center is home to a Vermont artist’s tribute to their selfless work during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Last week, UVM Medical Center unveiled “Hearts and Hands – A Tribute to Health Care Workers” – a sculpture by Randolph native and renowned artist Jim Sardonis which depicts two figures, cast in bronze, sitting on a marble bench with their outstretched hands joining to form the shape of a heart.
Sardonis, whose “Reverence” sculpture along Interstate 89 near South Burlington has garnered national interest and acclaim, said he was guided by his admiration of the health care workers’ heroic efforts throughout the pandemic, and a desire to recognize their bravery during a protracted period of uncertainty and fear.
“Like most people during the pandemic, I was so impressed by the stories – especially in those early times, when you didn’t even really know how things were transmitted,” said Sardonis, who noted that his wife, Dianne, is a retired registered nurse with decades of experience working in a variety of clinical settings. “They (health care workers) were literally risking their lives. So when I was asked to be a part of this effort to honor that work, I was especially happy.
The piece, which Sardonis began conceiving in March of 2022, when he was contacted by an anonymous donor with a desire to honor health care workers’ perseverance and bravery during the pandemic, now sits near the McClure elevators on UVM Medical Center’s third floor.
Behind the bench and seated figures a wall-mounted plaque reads: “This bronze sculpture and bench, created by Vermont artist James Sardonis, is a gift in recognition of the dedication and care exemplified by al healthcare professionals in the face of unprecedented adversity during the pandemic of 2019-2023. Our community is forever grateful for your courage, compassion and sacrifice.”
Stephen Leffler, MD, president and chief operating officer of UVM Medical Center, thanked both Sardonis and the donor – who has asked to remain anonymous – for their work celebrating the health care professionals who continue to care for communities across the region.
“This was a generous gesture and means so much,” said Dr. Leffler. “It symbolizes the backing and support we have had from our community throughout our pandemic response. I want to be clear, the statue does not imply that COVID-19 is gone from our communities or from our hospital. It recognizes the heroic efforts of health care workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The donor, for their part, hopes that one day Sardonis’ work is merely a reminder of an exceedingly challenging time, and the extraordinary courage, compassion and expertise on display every day at hospitals like UVM Medical Center.
“This meaningful memorial will be here long after COVID-19 is in the history books,” they said. “We are so thankful for the touching reactions of those who have already seen ‘Heart and Hands’, and so proud of the healthcare workers caring for our community each day.”