April 1, 2020 By Michael Dorgan
A New York City artist has erected “Thank You” signs outside various city hospitals – including Elmhurst Hospital – to show his appreciation for frontline staff battling the COVID-19 spread.
Scott LoBaido, a Staten Island native who has been creating patriotic art for 25 years, said he wanted to express his gratitude to hospital workers who are putting their lives at risk to help others during the coronavirus pandemic.
The signs, which measure 8 feet by 4 feet per letter and stretch 40 feet wide in total, are now standing outside Elmhurst Hospital and three different Staten Island hospitals.
LoBaido cuts the letters out of polystyrene using a jigsaw and then ties them to the fence with tape and wire. The heart shape is carved out of the letter “O.” The letters are each 2 inches thick.
“I was going to do a sculpture of a nurse and put it in front of the hospital and then it just hit me…to do a sign,” he said.
He said that the signs are simplistic but capture the mood of how the public feels.
“Two words. Two simple words that mean more than anything at this point so I decided to build these giant letters and go to a couple of local hospitals here in Staten Island and put them up.”
His first sign went up on March 21 at Staten Island University North and then he replicated the signs and put them up outside Richmond University Hospital and Staten Island University Hospital South soon after.
LoBaido said he received such an outpouring of appreciation from the general public and staff at hospitals that he wanted to erect signs in each borough beginning with Elmhurst Hospital on March 28.
“I went to Elmhurst which is the epicenter of this whole crisis and put a sign up there,” he said.
LoBaido said that the reaction he received from the staff at Elmhurst Hospital was particularly powerful and emotional.
“They just came out in droves, and they wanted to hug me but they couldn’t [because of social distancing],” he said.
“They took pictures and they cried and then I cried,” LoBaido said.
LoBaido said all types of staff working at the hospital came out to express their thanks.
“There were doctors, surgeons, administrators, down to the fella working in the kitchen and security guards,” he said.
“I knew it would be a good thing but I didn’t realize how it would really affect them and that makes me feel like the artist is doing the right thing,” he said.
“And so if art can put a smile on somebody’s face that’s in a hellhole for two minutes then I did the right thing,” he said.
The public, he said, is now signing the letters expressing their gratitude to hospital workers.
LoBaido said each sign cost him about $500 to make – which he paid for with a few donations from friends, he said.
He said he plans on erecting more signs at other hospitals in the future but is putting those plans on hold while the public is being urged to stay inside, he said.