Manny Remilus spent time in and out of the hospital as a child. Now that he's a nurse, he wants to make patients' hospital stays a bit brighter. So, he uses the healing powers of music.
"You know, when I was there, the thing I think back on the the most was how the nurses there really took care of me — really made me feel like family, really made me feel like I was at home," Remilus told CBS News. "Really helped me forget the troubles of being in a scary environment, you know and not always having my family there with me."
"And so, growing up, I decided I wanted to do the same thing and give back, and so that's why I became a pediatric nurse," he said.
Thanks to the nurses, Remilus looks back on that time fondly. He's determined to be a good memory for kids at New York's Cohen Children's Medical Center.
"One of the things that I learned throughout my time – both in life and my experiences in the hospital as a patient and a nurse – is that music is a very powerful tool that we have in our arsenal to really help put people at ease," he said. Remilus said even a three-minute song and impromptu dance party can ease a patient's mood.
"Obviously, we want to treat the disease, and that's very important, because that can help them get out of the hospital, but you also want to look back on these times and you don't want to be scared about the hospital, right? Because we're here to help you, but it can be very scary," he said. "And so, we want to make sure that you're comfortable and that you understand what's going on and that you remember it fondly."
Remilus sings all kids of songs to the kids, from nursery rhymes to contemporary music. "I'm not always hip to the most popular music that kids are listening to these days. But, you know, you put it on, you give me some lyrics and I'll catch on eventually," he said.
And he recently joined a group of other musical healers: the Northwell Health nurses choir. The group was even featured on "America's Got Talent." They went to Hollywood to audition for the show – the first time they got together in person due to the pandemic.
Remilus said he realized the choir was using music to heal themselves during the dark days of the pandemic. Making it to the finals of "America's Got Talent" let them share the healing power of music with millions of other people watching at home.
He hopes his hospital bedside singing inspires other nurses to bring joy to their patients – and he hopes the choir brings joy to the world.
"I think it's inspired a lot of people to not only sing for their patients, but whatever it is that brings you that joy – that helps to refill your cup, if you will – to always seek that out," he said. "Because we all are going through tough times, so whatever it is that you find that helps restore you and to help bring you back to 100%, find that thing and do it."
for more features.