Nursing attendant José Blanco Mendez shares his talent in our hospital lobby

Lifting spirits with music at Michael Garron Hospital

Nursing attendant José Blanco Mendez shares his talent in our hospital lobby

When you’re in the lobby of the Ken and Marilyn Thomson Patient Care Centre, you might hear the soothing sounds of classical guitar. Nursing attendant José Blanco Mendez also volunteers with the hospital to bring his music to patients and visitors during his lunch breaks. 

“I feel this is one of my missions, to help people with my music,” says José. “When I started playing here, it was to bring peace to my heart. Then I saw people’s faces change.” He realized he was lifting their spirits as well as his own.

Once, José was asked to play for a patient on the palliative care unit. “The staff told me, ‘this patient was an artist who loved music. Can you play for him before he dies?’ I said yes, no problem. I remember playing for him, five or six songs. The last one was a lullaby. After I finished, I saw tears in his eyes.”

Caring for people has been a lifelong calling for José. An obstetrician/gynecologist in his native Venezuela, he changed careers when he moved to Canada. He volunteered at our hospital from 2012 until he was hired in the endoscopy unit in 2020. 

As a child, José learned to play the cuatro, a four-stringed instrument similar to a ukulele. Later, he added piano, organ and guitar to his repertoire. Latin American love songs called boleros are his favourite.

In the lobby, José plays for patients, their families and friends, hospital staff and physicians. His gift of music inspires others to give too. Sometimes, people offer him tips as a way of saying thank-you. José sets out a collection box and kindly donates contributions to Michael Garron Hospital Foundation.

We’re grateful to José for his music and to everyone who is moved to donate.

Michael Garron Hospital provides great care inspired by community. Donate today to support the heart of the east.