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Nurses pray over patients and families from helipad on hospital's roof

A group of nurses in Nashville prayed together on the helipad atop the hospital in an uplifting scene during the coronavirus crisis.
/ Source: TODAY

A group of nurses is hoping to bring some help from above to their patients down below.

Angela Gleaves, a nurse at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee, posted an uplifting photo on Facebook Monday of her and four of her fellow nurses praying from the hospital's helipad atop the building amid the coronavirus pandemic.

"When you have a few extra minutes at work you take the time to go to the Helipad and pray," Gleaves wrote. "We prayed over the staff in our unit as well as all of the hospital employees. We also prayed over the patients and their families during this trying time.

"We also prayed for all of our colleagues around the world taking care of patients. It felt good to do this with some of my amazing co-workers. We could feel God's presence in the wind. Know that you are all covered in prayer."

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Gleaves and fellow nurses Sarah Kremer, Beth Tiesler, Tanya Dixon and McKenzie Gibson joined together in opening their arms in prayer and also kneeling in solemnity.

Kremer had reached out to Gleaves the night before and asked for the special prayer session on Kremer's birthday Monday.

"We just wanted to share (the pictures) to let everyone know that we were praying not only for our hospital, but all the patients and the families," Gleaves told TODAY. "It's just a really hard time for families as well as patients right now because a lot of hospitals aren't allowing visitors.

"It was a great moment. There was a little bit of wind, and I felt like it was God pushing us to care for these patients and do what we're trained to do."

Gleaves, who has been a registered nurse for 22 years, is no stranger to the helipad because she formerly served as a flight nurse who cared for patients during helicopter and airplane transport.

She reached out to the flight communicator for the hospital and worked it out so that she and her fellow nurses got about 10 minutes to go up on the helipad and pray.

"That was the first time we did that, and now people are like, 'Can we do this once a week?'" Gleaves said. "We've all been texting each other about different places we can pray with more of our employees. It's just hard because we don't always have the time to get away."

There are more than 900,000 cases of coronavirus around the world, including 200,000 cases and more than 4,000 deaths in the United States, according to Johns Hopkins University. Like hospitals across the country, Vanderbilt University Medical Center is treating patients with COVID-19.

"All the outpouring of love and support of companies donating masks and people sending these donations has just been beautiful," Gleaves said. "We see it as God working through others and wanting to bless others."

"Our physicians, nurses and staff are working around the clock to provide world-class care to COVID-19 patients from across the region we serve,'' a hospital spokesperson said in a statement to TODAY. "We care deeply about their safety while at work, as well as their physical and mental well-being."

The photo of the praying nurses has helped lift people's spirits as cases of the virus continue to rise across the country and many health care workers deal with exhausting and life-threatening conditions.

"Love this and thank you all for praying for us all in this stressful, uncertain time," one Facebook commenter wrote.

"This just gave me chills,'' another wrote. "Y’all are seriously amazing! God is there with you all."

Gleaves has been grateful for the outpouring of support for doctors, nurses and other health care workers during the current crisis.

"I keep telling everybody 'faith over fear,''' she said. "We just have to keep going. I really don't go to work scared. I understand why some people do because of family and kids at home, but I just try not to be fearful.

"I just wear the proper protective equipment, follow our protocols, and pray that we're all gonna be OK. We're just asking everybody to stay at home and do the right thing to help this from spreading more. We hope and pray that this gets out of here quickly!"