In celebration of our nurses and to commemorate their continuous contributions of healing and hope to the community, a 23-foot mural was recently installed at Highland Hospital in partnership with Alameda County.

The mural dedicated to our nurses completes the final phase of three historic wall displays that depict the rich heritage of Highland Hospital, a landmark of Alameda County’s health care landscape since 1927. The murals are located in the public hallways which span the Highland Health Care Pavilion, the ER waiting area and the entrance to the Acute Care Tower. The first two murals installed in 2019 focused on the unique architecture, surrounding gardens and the founding of our nursing school, Nightingale Hall that operated from 1929 to 1968.

This new mural brings a compassionate human element to the story of Highland Hospital by focusing on the outstanding care our nurses have provided throughout the years. The legacy of Alameda Health System’s (AHS’s) nurses comes to life in a stunning 3-D visual tribute that captures not only their historic contributions but also honors our nurses’ unwavering and tireless service on the frontline of COVID-19.

This was the goal from the very beginning of the design phase. “Nurses are often the unsung heroes of health care,” said graphic artist Wendy Jung of Jung Design who was tasked with bringing all of the pieces together for the visual tribute to our nurses. “It’s been an honor to help capture and chronicle their story.”

Equally important, the mural highlights the growth in the diversity of our nursing workforce that is evident in a photo from one of Nightingale Hall’s first graduating classes. “Our focus was to select photos that showcase the rich and increased diversity of AHS nurses over the years,” said Sandra Williams, System Director, Environmental Health and Safety Department. “The nurses pictured in the mural are a representation of the community we support, and the mural also reinforces AHS’s mission of serving all.”

Williams, along with her team, Environmental Health and Safety Managers Venus Baptiste and Lauren Byrd and assistant Sonia Coleman worked tirelessly in collaboration with Jung as the creative forces behind all three historic murals.  For the nursing mural Janet McInnes, Chief Administrative Officer and Chief Nurse Executive and Theresa Cooper, Vice President of Patient Care Services at Highland Hospital played a critical role in the process of selecting and approving photos that would best represent and celebrate our nurses.
“The rich history of nursing at Highland Hospital has been so well-preserved in a collection of photos and items that it was a very emotional experience as Theresa and I sifted through them all,” said McInnes. “It truly took my breath away and also allowed me to reflect on my profession and it made me incredibly proud to work for an organization that is so steeped in history and tradition.”
One crowd favorite featured on the 3-D mural is a vintage nurse’s uniform which was donated by a nurse who graduated from Nightingale Hall. Overall, the mural is receiving rave reviews. “The mural is important because it represents those who led the way in nursing here at AHS and it celebrates and honors the work we do every day,” said Jovita Okorie, Nurse Manager in the Medical Surgical Unit at Highland Hospital. “It also demonstrates how far we have come to increase diversity in the nursing profession.”

Williams agrees and said, “The wall is so captivating that it draws people in, and I believe it resonates with our nurses because they see themselves represented and it reinforces their purpose and pride in nursing.”

This is definitely true for Highland Hospital’s Jamila Mahogany, Assistant Nurse Manager in the Medical Surgical Unit whose Highland Hospital roots run deep.  Her mother Eulalia Williams retired from AHS in February 2014 after 33 years of service. She began as a staff nurse in Labor and Delivery at Highland Hospital and was ultimately promoted to the role of nurse manager in the department. She went on to hold several clinic manager roles including at Eastmont Wellness where she provided care and service for 11 years before retiring. Williams is included in the mural at Highland Hospital that honors outstanding nurses.

“When I look at the wall, it brings a smile to my face,” said Mahogany. She is proud that her mother’s hard work, passion and contributions are recognized alongside those of the many nurses who have served Alameda County throughout the years.

“Highland Hospital is now a part of my history,” she said. “Every day I strive to continue my mother’s legacy of providing exceptional leadership and patient care that makes a difference in the lives of our patients and the community we serve.”