By Ann Miller Baker - May 24, 2019
From Sunday through Thursday, Ancizar “Cesar” Bejarano-Bonilla spends his nights buffing the floors of Moffitt’s inpatient wings to a spotless shine. During his regularly scheduled breaks, he often trades the hum of the buffer for a sound more soothing to patients, families and fellow team members alike. You’ll find him in the hospital’s lobby, playing our grand piano.
“Music is something I’ve always been curious about,” says Cesar. “It’s a universal language.” Though he doesn’t read the language of music and has never taken formal lessons, Cesar feels it. He taught himself to play by simply sitting down at a piano in a store years ago when he lived in New York. “Whenever we’d shop there, my son used to say – ‘Don’t let him sit down at that piano. We want to go home sometime today!’”
Each impromptu concert Cesar plays is an original creation straight from his imagination and based in positivity. Cesar believes there is an energy that connects all of us. “We send and receive messages and energy all the time. So, every time I sit down at the piano, I first imagine that I’m going to do the best I can. And each time, I gain knowledge and experience to do better the next time.”
Cesar himself is often surprised when an audience gathers to listen. “You lose yourself in playing,” he explains, “and only when you look up do you realize people are there.”
Night shift team members have come to anticipate Cesar’s serenades. Some open their doors to be sure they’ll hear him. Recently, a woman whose husband was upstairs on a patient floor came down to encourage Cesar to keep playing. “It makes him feel so good,” she told Cesar.
Environmental Services (EVS) Director Tony Sanders was surprised to learn of Cesar’s musical talents, but not that he would use them to make patients more comfortable. “At Moffitt, EVS workers have a chance to interact with most patients and family members for a longer timeframe than most other team members,” says Sanders. “During a patient’s visit, the EVS team member not only introduces themselves in order to clean an area, but most certainly takes time out to engage the patients and family members on a personal level. Surely, we strive to make cleanliness our number one concern. But taking the time out to lend an ear, or to help with needs outside of primary care is something more personal. This is what we see each and every day from our EVS staff, and Cesar’s break-time concerts are just one example of that.”
After 16 years working full time in Moffitt’s Environmental Services department, you might think Cesar would relish his days off away from the hospital. But the lobby’s piano draws him back most Friday nights as well. Some folks quickly pass through, anxious to begin their weekend. Others pause to sit in the lobby chairs, soothed by Cesar’s music.
“I love working at Moffitt,” Cesar says, “but nights like these are the best.”
Kudos to Cesar for making some nights a little better for patients, families and team members alike.