Ochsner employees in Baton Rouge treated to free concert

B Street Benny gives back during Hospital Week

Ochsner COVID-19 doctors and recovered patient enjoy outdoor concert

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Ochsner employees in Baton Rouge were treated to a special concert to thank them for all their hard work.

It’s National Hospital Week and leaders of Ochsner Medical Center always find a way to honor their medical staff for their dedication. As part of their planned activities, the hospital hosted a cook-out for medical staff, but the entertainment this year was new thanks to a patient looking to give back.

Musical director of B Street Benny, Brad Lewis, wanted to find a way to thank Ochsner for taking care of his hospitalized father, so he decided to put on a concert.

Lewis’ father, Harmon “Joe” Lewis, is battling leukemia. Brad wanted to be by his father’s side, but could not because of restricted visitation policies due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The doctors, nurses, and his dad, Harmon "Joe" Lewis can relate to that. Harmon is fighting an advanced form of Leukemia. And music has a way of letting you let go just for a minute.

This free outdoor concert at Ochsner isn’t for him though. It’s being put on by him for his caretakers.

“Being in the hospital was not a pleasure except for the staff there,” Harmon said. “The staff was fantastic.”

Harmon’s son, Brad says his dad was kind of down for a while but, “He kept saying how the nurses and doctors made him feel so comfortable and got him through a tough period.”

Harmon was in the hospital for two weeks with pneumonia. His family and members of his church coordinated several drive-by visits, visitors weren’t allowed inside. His doctors soon became his friends, “This is pretty much a calling, and when we have a patient,” said Dr. Daniel Ezekwudo, Hematology Oncologist at Ochsner Medical Center. “No matter what stage they have been diagnosed with. We try to make sure that the time that we present ourselves, we make ourselves available for them.”

Once discharged, Joe could talk of nothing but how compassionate the staff at Ochsner was to him. This inspired Brad to put on a free concert to thank the staff.

Harmon’s son was on the guitar and his daughter in law, Tanya was on the mic. Harmon says he thought about cooking to say thanks, “I can cook, but for 300 people plus that's a lot of cooking.”

So, instead, he opted to bring the band together after 8 weeks of a COVID-19 hiatus. Tanya says they normally are booked for weddings and private events, but the pandemic put that on hold. The couple says the other members of the band were happy to play for the medical staff.

In the midst of so much chaos, Harmon says the doctors knew just what to say. But the day he was discharged; it was one doctor's actions that stick. He says as they were driving out of the parking lot, a doctor ran to their car, “Banging on the car wanting to tell me goodbye. I've never had a doctor chase me down that way before, but that's just phenomenal. Literally, sprint with his scrubs and mask.”

That’s one reason why Harmon says you don’t stop believing in humanity, “Being in the hospital with double pneumonia wasn’t their choice or mine either. They got me through it. For that, I’m thankful to them.”

In accordance with social distancing guidelines, the concert was only open to staff members. However, the band livestreamed the show on its Facebook page.

Ochsner will also treat its staff to a special lunch in recognition of Hospital Week (May 10 through 16) and Nurses Week (May 6 through 12).

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