A nurse at Bethesda Hospital created artwork of an anatomical heart solely from caps of items that she and her coworkers collected over the last few years. 

Angelie Kuka has been working as a nurse at Bethesda Hospital for three years, and currently works in the emergency room. 

During this time, she’s collected thousands of little round tabs from the tops of medication vials. 

"Most of the time, they just get thrown right in the garbage and we go on and use the medication," she says. "I just started pocketing them because they're so colorful and it felt like a waste to throw them away.”

Mid-pandemic, she was overwhelmed as a new nurse, and she was hit with artistic inspiration. 

"I was a new nurse seeing all the suffering and just wanting to find meaning in the height of the pandemic," she says. "And not really knowing how to deal with everything that I was seeing on the COVID ward, I saw all of these great colors on the little plastic caps and got inspired to create a piece with them.” 

After a lot of thinking, she ended up choosing the idea of an anatomical heart. 

She chose a human heart because it was the heart of humanity that she saw in the hospital. 

“I saw the hearts of all the nurses around me, and all the healthcare aides, and the team, and the patients that I worked with and their families,” she says. “It felt like it encapsulated everything I was experiencing.” 

The artwork was solely made of caps, whether it was mediation vial caps or needle caps, Kuka would put it to use. 

“Over 6,000 pieces are used in that, and I just wanted all the nurses who helped me collect these to see that they were part of this, and to see something tangible that reflected the work that they've put in here at the hospital.” 

Kuka adds, “I really like telling people that they were part of this because I really think it reflects the work of the nurses in our hospital."

Having the artwork come to completion now on the other side of the pandemic makes her feel a sense of relief as she heads into the next chapter. 

"I built it during the height of everything. And now that things feel like they're settling down, I get to see it hanging, and looking nice and feeling like a finished piece for me.” 

She hopes to start working on her next artistic project after Christmas. 

Kuka notes things are still hard at the hospital, but the pandemic has definitely slowed down. 

“We've been facing some staffing challenges that have been difficult, but I think pandemic-wise we're not seeing quite as much.” 


*with files from Corny Rempel