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Nashville nurse brings side hustle to hospital during pandemic

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Posted at 11:35 AM, Sep 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-27 13:35:03-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Almost anyone here can tell you what you need to bring a song to life in this city of music.

That includes musician Megan Palmer, who says after more than a year of canceled concerts and COVID, she wanted to use her platform to highlight the heroes of the pandemic: doctors and nurses.

On a weeknight in early June, Palmer took to the City Winery stage to perform songs off her new mini-album, “Take Good Care,” along with her backup -- Paul Raymond and Anna Henderson.

“We didn't know we formed a band until the record came out,” Palmer said, laughing.

But if anyone knows about taking good care, it’s the trio on stage – all of whom are also nurses at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

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Paul Raymond, Anna Henderson and Megan Palmer are all nurses at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

Based in the Palliative Care Unit, these three have cared for patients in the middle of a pandemic, when often their lives are at an end.

In creating her songs, Palmer listened to what her co-workers had to say about working as a health care professional during the pandemic.

“I just started jotting down things people were saying because they're all so very profound," she said.

Then, Palmer thought, why limit their songs to the stage, when perhaps another way to care for patients may not be through an IV or stethoscope but a different kind of instrument.

“I’m sure I will enjoy this singing,” said patient Zollie Bailiff from Shelbyville. “It’ll cheer me up!”

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From his hospital bed, Zollie Bailiff of Shelbyville listens to Palmer, Raymond and Henderson sing “Take Good Care."

The three then begin singing the title track off Palmer’s latest album, “Take Good Care.”

Wrote a letter to my father
asked him for forgiveness
for the wrongs I have done.

This life moves in many circles
This live moves in many ways
and all we can do is take good care.

Take good care of me
I will take good care of you
as this life moves.

“I bet when you woke up this morning, you weren’t expecting something like this, were you,” nurse Henderson asked Bailiff.

Without missing a beat, Bailiff replied: “No, I was expecting a catheter!”

Palmer describes her trio’s music playing as a kind of healing that goes beyond medicine.

It's something that Palmer understands firsthand.

Palmer was diagnosed with breast cancer five years ago, and just a couple of months ago learned that cancer has returned.

She is in the middle of chemotherapy treatments that she takes once every two weeks – a change that has happened quickly.

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Palmer is in the middle of her chemotherapy treatment, which she receives once every two weeks.

“I didn't even know this was happening when I met you guys at the show,” Palmer said. “This was all. Since I saw you last, this has all happened.”

But Palmer takes the new challenge in stride, joking about her time off work to fight cancer.

“Yeah, I mean give a nurse a month off, even if she's in chemo, it’s like, ‘Yeah, I feel pretty good,’” Palmer said, laughing.

“I feel like I have a little journey ahead of me, and I'm going to do my best to embrace that and take good care of myself,” Palmer said.

There's no doubt, Megan knows what it takes to bring her song to life, but it takes someone as unique as her to get her life to a piece.

In the weeks since the start of her chemotherapy, Palmer tells us that scans show her treatment appears to be working. She says she's currently working on healing, resting, and feeling well.

Jason Lamb at WTVF first reported this story.