Sandra Vizer, R.N., is a nurse in the cardiovascular intensive care (CVICU) unit at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital and knows that her role is to support her patients physically, emotionally and mentally in so many different ways. But for Vizer, it goes beyond that. She has another talent that she puts to use for her heart patients and families.
“I just happen to have this artistic skill that I am grateful I can use to support them in a different way,” she says. “I love to draw and paint and I’ve always had a knack for it — it’s something I enjoy.”
Vizer draws beautiful kid-friendly murals, from butterflies to favorite movie characters, on the doors of patient rooms in her unit to uplift patients, families and their visitors — even fellow staff.
“There’s a lot of gratification being able to do something unique and special for them and seeing their smiles knowing this little thing was able to make such an impact, and make their hospitalization a little less traumatic,” Vizer says.
Vizer wasn’t always on the course to becoming a nurse. After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in business administration and a master's in international business with a plan to apply to law school, she realized she wanted to do something she considered even more meaningful. In helping her on that pursuit, one day her mom asked, “OK, Sandra, if you could do anything in the world right now, what would it be?” Vizer replied she wanted to work in the medical field and help people.
Fast forward to today: Vizer chose nursing, received her second degree, never looked back and has worked at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg, Florida, for a year and a half now, starting right in the middle of the pandemic.
“It was divine intervention in a way,” Vizer says. “The opportunity presented itself, I took it and now I couldn’t imagine anything else. I love kids and babies!”
The mural idea started at the end of last year and one of her first drawings was for mom Samantha and her identical twin baby girls, Caroline and Adelyn. They were both diagnosed with Williams syndrome, a developmental disorder that sometimes affects the heart. Caroline needed a heart surgery and was being cared for in the CVICU, which kept her separated from her sister who was in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).
“There are very sad times, but there’s happy moments, too,” Samantha says. “You have to remember to look for those little moments. I love Johns Hopkins. They will forever be my first love of the hospital, the CVICU floor is my love — the staff became like family.”
The most difficult obstacle for Samantha was having her girls in two different units and physically unable to be together.
“Sandra was one of our nurses we had on night shift one night. This was post-operative after Caroline’s surgery,” Samantha says. “I was telling her how her twin was in the NICU.”
Vizer sprang into action and drew a touching mural about sisterhood from a special movie, and that’s how this passion project blossomed.
“I wrote, ‘Sisterhood is Magic,’” recalls Vizer. Her gesture meant a lot to Samantha.
“It was a little bright spot on a cloudy day. I appreciated her doing that and you realize her heart is there, and she truly cares about the kids and the wellbeing of families,” Samantha says. “It reiterates the fact that they’re there because they want to be and they’re really fulfilling their calling in life.”
From that point, Vizer’s reputation for the murals grew. She sometimes even gets special requests.
“I’ve heard comments from parents and patients and staff appreciating the artwork. This has impacted the unit in such a positive way. I’m grateful something like this can shine and make a difference.”