In an announcement that marked the first anniversary of the COVID-19 pandemic, Mercy Health — Youngstown and the Mercy Health Foundation — Mahoning Valley said a permanent memorial is planned to honor victims of the pandemic and those who cared for them.

The memorial will stand at the front of Mercy Health — St. Elizabeth Youngstown Hospital and is expected to be completed in September, according to Mercy Health officials.

Mercy Health — Youngstown is part of the Bon Secours Mercy Health integrated health system of Catholic hospitals.

A central element of the memorial will be a bronze sculpture by Canadian artist Timothy Schmalz, titled “When I Was Sick,” featuring a patient representing Jesus and lying prone, said Jonathan Fauvie, public relations and communication manager for Mercy Health.

Schmalz, a Catholic, is best known for his 2013 sculpture, “Homeless Jesus,” depicting Jesus as a person in need and alluding to the corporal works of mercy. Replicas of this work have been displayed around the world, including at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.

More recently, he created “Angels Unawares,” a bronze sculpture depicting the movement of migrants.

“One year later and I don’t believe anyone could have predicted we would still be fighting the invisible enemy we know as COVID-19,” said Dr. John Luellen, market president at Mercy Health — Youngstown.

“Today we remember those we lost, remind ourselves of the blessing to have survivors and the dedication of our health care workers, in all levels and health systems,” Luellen said at a recent news conference.

“Additionally, (the memorial) will recognize the health care heroes among us who sacrificed greatly to care for the sick and dying in our community,” Luellen concluded.

The memorial at the Youngstown hospital “will permanently observe the global pandemic and represent a tribute to the loved ones we lost and continue to lose,” Fauvie said.

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