ELMIRA, N.Y. (WENY) -- On Monday evening, an Arnot Ogden Medical Center nurse was welcomed home after being honored with a national medical award. Nurse Patrick Perl was in shock as he was recognized by his family, friends, and coworkers in the Medical Center's lobby - to celebrate winning the Press-Ganey "Front-Line Clinical Nurse of the Year."

"I’m just really overwhelmed with this award and I just want to thank everybody. All of you came out to say thank you and congratulations to me, it really does mean a lot," said Perl.

Perl attended the Press-Ganey conference which recognizes people who show "remarkable leadership in advancing the human experience of healthcare," last week in Orlando Florida. 

Perl had no idea he was going to receive this award. He was nominated for the award because of the compassion he showed his patients who were stuck in isolation during the pandemic. 

"There’s nothing more telling that reveals more about how important human contact is than to have it all taken away. So we’d see that with our patients who just couldn't have their families come in. We were trying to limit our interactions coming in and out too, so there was a lot of loneliness, a lot of despair, and that didn’t help patients recover," said Perl.

Perl recounted one of his patients who wasn't doing well at the time and felt sad and lonely. He said the patient's family called him and asked if they could come to the hospital's parking lot to wave to her.

"I said 'well yeah, sure, that would be great. You can hold up signs and whatever' and she asked 'how will I know which room is hers?' So I said, 'I'll tell you what. I’ll get some Christmas lights and I’ll hang them in her room, and then you’ll know that’s her window."

Perl knew he had to do something for the lonely patients, so he started the "Share the Light -- Shine the Light" program. Perl decided to hang battery operated lights (donated by community members) in all of the isolated patients' rooms. When asked why he started the program, he said that the lights are more than just a decoration.

"The patient just kept talking about those lights and how they gave her hope, and that they made her happy. This is a wonderful opportunity to share that hope and happiness with these other people," said Perl.

Perl said he never did this for the awards or accolades -- he did this to help those in need.