OPMC nurse earns praise, gift from Guitar Center for delivering musical medicine to her patients

By Don Coble don@opcfla.com
Posted 6/9/21

ORANGE PARK – Shondra Diggett made a mad-dash from her car to the Orange Park Medical Center to avoid a storm last week, only to be met by the bright lights of a camera and a group who were …

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OPMC nurse earns praise, gift from Guitar Center for delivering musical medicine to her patients

Posted

ORANGE PARK – Shondra Diggett made a mad-dash from her car to the Orange Park Medical Center to avoid a storm last week, only to be met by the bright lights of a camera and a group who were clapping. Already drenched by rain, the nurse then was showered with gifts and appreciation for her work in behavioral health.

Diggett, who’s gained notoriety for playing a guitar and singing to patients, received thanks and a $2,000 gift card from Guitar Center so she can continue her inspirational work.

“When I saw Shondra’s story on the news I was really moved by her performance and felt compelled to do something to support her,” said Ron Japinga, CEO, Guitar Center. “I’m happy that Guitar Center was able to give new gear to her to continue spreading joy and positivity to everyone at Orange Park Medical Center through the healing power of music.”

Japinga thanked her in a video message, and gift card was delivered by Devon Dame, a Guitar Center manager at the Orange Park Mall. His company called Diggett a “hero” and it wanted to keep her encouraged to keep playing – and spreading joy.

Diggett also will get formal playing lessons.

“I’m definitely not technically trained,” Diggett said. “I taught myself. I started playing and singing in church. I also used to sing in small coffee shops. I sang for my supper when I was in nursing school. This is the kind of attention I’m not used to.”

Diggett said she wants to use the gift certificate to buy her “dream guitar.” She’s always wanted a Taylor or a Martin, but costs that generally start between $1,000-$2,000 made it prohibitive.

Guitar Center changed all that.

“I feel like I’m getting way too much attention for doing what I do,” Diggett said. “It’s always been so well received by the patients. Being in behavioral health, it’s important to reach out to your patients. I’m always asking them to sing with me, to dance with me.”

Depending on her mood, Diggett plays a variety of music genres. She’s a deadhead – an ardent fan of the Grateful Dead – but she admits there’s nothing more soothing than playing the Allman Brothers’ “Soulshine.”

Diggett said her favorite stage always will be at the hospital.

“Music is medicine,” she said. “It’s medicine for the soul.”

Diggett said she will start shopping for “a new axe” this weekend.

“It is fulfilling to be able to be a bright star on a dark day for those hurting, frightened and lonely,” Diggett said. “Making my patients smile and laugh is what I enjoy most about my job. Working in behavioral health, this is often crucial in gaining rapport and lifting their spirits. It is so rewarding to have the opportunity to do so.”

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