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Health workers will share their creative works in a special event at the Straz Center

health care workers stand in a line wearing masks and face shields
Emily Panakos
This photo, shot by health worker Emily Panakos, is one example of art that will be on display in the show. It will also feature performances.

For some contributors, art helps them cope with the stress of working in health care.

Health care workers are sharing literary, visual and performance art in a special event at the Straz Center in downtown Tampa on Saturday.

Called "Reflejos: Artistic Reflections of Health Care Providers," it will feature the creative works of doctors and nurses with the University of South Florida and Tampa General Hospital. “Reflejos” is Spanish for “reflections.”

Dr. Leyla Aponte is an internal medicine physician with USF Health and is also a poet and author of short stories. Three of her pieces will be featured in "Reflejos," accompanied by dance and musical performances from other health workers.

Aponte wants the public to see a different side of the people who provide their care.

“We're not just physicians, we're human beings,” she said. “Being able to share pieces of work in writing or painting or with a poem is definitely one way to connect with the community.”

Art also helps Aponte and her colleagues cope with the stress of their jobs.

“Being able to do that allows us to seek balance, to have balance in our own lives and hopefully suffer less burnout, less depression, less anxiety,” she said, adding that that has been especially important lately as COVID-19 continues to strain health workers.

The project is based on a program developed by faculty in the Department of Internal Medicine in the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine. Creative works were originally presented in a magazine and can now be shared in front of a live audience.

The showcase is at 6 p.m. Saturday at the Straz for Performing Arts and is free to attend. You can reserve a seat and find more information on the event web page.

I cover health care for WUSF and the statewide journalism collaborative Health News Florida. I’m passionate about highlighting community efforts to improve the quality of care in our state and make it more accessible to all Floridians. I’m also committed to holding those in power accountable when they fail to prioritize the health needs of the people they serve.
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