BURLINGTON (CBS) – At Lahey Hospital & Medical Center, they call it “Code Rocky” when a Covid-19 patient recovers and is wheeled out of the hospital. The iconic theme is piped throughout the building, and doctors and nurses line the hallways clapping and cheering.

Nurse Kimberly Kontrimas takes it one step further, dressing the part with pink boxing gloves. A surgeon dons a head-to-toe Rocky costume to add to the celebration. “It’s like the end of a game, and you are winning and cheering,” she said. “You kind of get to celebrate the victories that we are having here.”

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Danielle Lyons came up with a creative way to let patients see nurses smiling at them. (Photo credit: Leahy Hospital & Medical Center)

But for the nurses on Lahey’s 7 East floor, between those victories, the battle is grueling. “Patients are so sick,” Danielle Lyons told us during an interview via Zoom. “It’s more the emotional part of it that has been tough. Patients can’t see their families. They are all so sad.”

Lyons feels the weight of being the medical caregiver and the main emotional support for her patients. “I was taking care of a patient who is 99 years old. He said he didn’t think he was going to make it,” she recalled. Lyons said that patient told her he wished he could see her smile. “I left the room and cried,” she said.

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Nurses and doctors at Lahey Hospital & Medical Center celebrate a COVID-19 patient’s release with a Rocky theme. (Photo credit: Lahey Hospital & Medical Center)

That night, she came up with the idea to make laminated photos that nurses now wear on their gowns.

That 99-year-old patient? He did make it. “I went in on the day of his discharge and said, ‘I just wanted you to see my smile,'” Lyons said, pointing to her laminated photo on her yellow gown. “I made them because of you.”

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Even as we pass the peak and gradually emerge into whatever our new normal will be, these nurses want us all to continue to take this virus seriously. “Nothing can do it justice, what you see, what we go through,” Lyons said. “It’s really like nothing you can imagine.”

Kate Merrill