ICU nurse collects cards to give patients hope amid virus

So far, he has collected over 2,500, but he hopes this is just the beginning.


James Underhill is a registered nurse, working inside the University of New Mexico Hospital's medical ICU.

This section of the hospital is where people who are positive for COVID-19 are receiving in-patient care.

"It's ... a very difficult situation, because some people are just extremely sick," Underhill tells sister station KOAT. "It's hard to pull people out that [are at] a low level of functioning."

Underhill says he and his fellow nurses, doctors, and therapists are working tirelessly to provide care to patients battling this virus, and says every day is a new challenge.

Unless a patient is receiving end of life care, Underhill says medical staff are often times the only people interacting one-on-one with those who are positive for the virus.

"The thing that has impacted me the most is the families not being able to connect at some of the most pivotal points in someone's life."

It's a mental — and physical — challenge for health care workers and patients alike, so Underhill wanted to make life in the ICU brighter for everyone.

Now, he is asking New Mexicans to send "get well" cards and notes to the patients at the UNM Hospital and the Sandoval Regional Medical Center.

So far, he has collected over 2,500, but he hopes this is just the beginning.

"We're giving a little humanity back to them, when ... a lot of it has been taken away with the treatments we have to do to save these people's lives," Underhill tells KOAT.

The cards, letters, and drawings are being posted around the hallways, on windows, and inside patients' rooms.

If you would like to mail in a card, you can send them to these addresses:

UNM Hospital
2211 Lomas NE
Attn: Barbara Temer
Albuquerque, NM 87106

Sandoval Regional Medical Center
3001 Broadmoor Blvd. NE
Attn: Irene Lunneborg
Rio Rancho, NM 87144