As an administrative resident at a Colorado hospital, Tate Hegstrom has witnessed the coronavirus pandemic’s impact on the health care industry firsthand. Now, his musical gestures of support for front-line workers have earned him and his 3-year-old husky, Kovu, a global audience.
Last week, Hegstrom uploaded a video of himself performing an acoustic version of Bill Withers’ 1972 hit, “Lean on Me,” on Instagram. Kovu, meanwhile, was sprawled out behind him, howling along in perfect harmony.
The clip quickly became a hit, appearing in segments on “Good Morning America” as well as a host of other outlets. On Sunday, Hegstrom and Kovu teamed up for a second time to perform Jason Mraz’s “I’m Yours,” and the results were just as impressive.
Hegstrom, 25, told People his job at HealthONE, a part of HCA Healthcare, has required him to support front-line workers at Denver’s North Suburban Medical Center who are responding to the coronavirus crisis.
The “Lean on Me” performance was part of a company-wide effort to show appreciation for the hospital’s medical professionals and cleaning staff. Getting Kovu to show off his musical prowess is actually easier than it looks, Hegstrom said.
“All it takes is a little motivation, and he hops right in,” he explained. Noting that his canine pal has a similar response to sirens and other melodic sounds, he added, “I’ll spend 12 hours in the hospital, and when you come home after a long day and he gives you one of the big ol’ howls, it is something special.”
Hegstrom, who lives in Denver with his wife, Emily, told People he’s grateful for the attention his duets with Kovu have received. Ultimately, he’d like his performances to encourage others to show their support for those on the front lines of the fight against COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.
“Any sort of appreciation people can show online is helpful, including donating to hospitals, donating food or sending cards,” he said.
As of Tuesday, Colorado had confirmed a total of 22,202 cases of COVID-19 and 1,224 deaths.
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