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Wilson County resident provides handmade quilts to VWCH nurses

Jun. 9, 2021, 9:00 AM

Linda Salerno, in her home studio, recently donated 40 handmade quilts to Wilson County’s ICU nurses.
Photo by: Susan Urmy

ICU nurses at Vanderbilt Wilson County Hospital (VWCH) were recently surprised with a thoughtful gift –unique handmade quilts for every single nurse in the unit.

Linda Salerno, a Wilson County resident, was the creator behind the quilts, which totaled 40. Salerno picked the patterns, color schemes and fabrics for every quilt, sewing them one by one.

Salerno was inspired to give back after hearing stories from ICU nurses across the country recounting their experiences caring for critically ill COVID-19 patients. Learning about the emotional toll many nurses were taking on got Salerno thinking of ways she could show appreciation to her local ICU nurses.

“Our nurses are unsung heroes, and I felt that they needed to be recognized and rewarded for their sacrifice and service during this horrible pandemic,” Salerno said. “It’s an enormous responsibility, and it must take a huge toll on them physically and emotionally.”

As an experienced quilter, Salerno recognizes that the gift of a quilt symbolizes comfort and warmth – something that has never been needed more for front-line workers. “I just wanted them to know that I think about them, and that I thank them from the bottom of my heart.”

Initially, Salerno made 25 quilts. While finalizing the specifics of Salerno’s donation, a double-check was done on the number of the nurses in the VWCH ICU. The accurate count was actually 40. Hospital staff suggested Salerno simply donate the 25 that were already made, and that a raffle system could be implemented for the coveted quilts.

That was not an option to Salerno. “I told them no one would be excluded,” Salerno said. “I just needed a little more time.” Salerno recruited her husband, who has no prior quilting experience, to help her make the remaining 15 quilts. In late March, Salerno arrived at VWCH to donate 40 quilts – leaving no nurses out.

“It was a hard year for all of our staff,” said Scott McCarver, MHA, Interim President of VWCH. “The support that we have received from our community has been uplifting. Thank you, Linda, for the recognition of all of our hard work.”

Salerno considers quilting her form of artistic expression and an important hobby as she has transitioned into life as a retiree. She estimates that she has made well over 600 quilts in her life, and she will not be stopping anytime soon. She plans to continue creating quilts for heroes in her community and has already begun her next quilting project, the recipients of which will be kept a secret until Salerno can deliver their quilts in person.

“We’re surrounded by heroes every day,” she said. “I want to recognize people who courageously help others, not expecting anything in return. I just want to say thank you.”


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