Edward Hospital Heroes Reflect on Year of COVID-19

It’s been nearly a year since Edward Hospital in Naperville reported its first case of COVID-19.

On March 22 2020, the hospital announced it was treating four inpatients with the novel coronavirus.

Lindsay Cerchio, a nurse in the Intensive Care Unit at Edward, volunteered to treat the hospital’s first patient with COVID-19.

What it Was Like Treating The First Patient With COVID-19

“At the time everybody was obviously scared and freaked out about it,” said Cerchio. “I live alone with my dog, so I was like ‘ok I don’t live with anybody who’s immunocompromised or any at-risk population at home’. So I volunteered to take it. And then, just a few short weeks after that, everybody in the unit was having a COVID patient.”

The influx of COVID-19 patients forced Edward to cancel elective surgeries for a couple of months and reconfigured other units in the hospital to aid its emergency one.

In addition, the Naperville hospital set up a blue tent outside of its building in case of a surge.

Moment of Realization

“I walked through the tent, out in the ER drive, and I thought ‘yeah, this is a pandemic’,” said Infection Control Manager at Edward Hospital Mary Anderson.

Anderson says she’s seen potential pandemics like SARS, MERS, and Avian Influenza, but nothing like the scale of COVID-19.

She admits in the beginning the hospital wasn’t prepared for the pandemic, due to the shortage of personal protective equipment, but says Edward never ran out of PPE or put its staff in a compromising situation.

“We had to be really creative and do all kinds of things to think outside the box, and use and reuse personal protective equipment in way that we had never been thought as health care workers,” said Anderson. **just check transcription on this one – it technically should be “in a way that we had never thought of as health care workers” but I’m not sure how it came out when she said it

Community Support for Edward Hospital Heroes

Around the same time, an outpouring of support came from community members, with kind gestures like providing frontline workers with free food, signs of gratitude, and PPE donations.

Cerchio said the support meant the world to her and kept her going through some rough days. She highlighted a note that a young girl wrote to her as a source of motivation.

“One folded napkin, two staple rubber bands, three put it on, because she said she wanted to make me a mask so I could go to the store too,” said Cerchio. “So she made me a paper towel napkin mask, and it’s actually really cute and adorable. That was goofy, funny, and sweet. I loved that.”

Second Wave

COVID-19 patients at Edward declined last summer, but spiked in the fall and winter. In November, Edward was treating its highest amount of coronavirus patients at 97.

“The second time around it was like it hit harder, and the virus was stronger as you can anticipate with a second wave,” said Cerchio. “There were times where every bed in our unit was full and there were other patients that needed to be in the ICU. It was very hard to juggle who needs to be in the ICU and who can transfer out, what can we do?”

Cerchio said the pandemic also had an effect on Edward staff, resulting in a lot of turnover at the hospital.

Vaccines Arrive

As things seemed bleak, Edward, along with the rest of the world, received some much needed help in the form of a vaccine.

COVID-19 vaccines doses first arrived at Edward on December 17 and not long after cases at the hospital began to drop.

“It was just such a feeling of hope, gratitude and excitement,” said Anderson. “I think it really has made a huge difference and for our community.” Just checking on the transcription here

At the time of this recording Edward is currently treating 20 confirmed cases COVID-19 patients.

Light at The End of The Tunnel

Though vaccine rollouts have not been ideal, Anderson asks community members to stay patient as we near the finish line.

“If you are waiting for your vaccine please wait patiently, but keep trying because it will be available” said Anderson. “As soon as we can get it to you we will.”

Story of a Lifetime for Edward Hospital Heroes

Through it all Cerchio and Anderson say they’ve learned a lot over the past year as they’ve played a personal part in this historic pandemic.

“Any of our frontline workers that you the opportunity to talk to, I think, have a phenomenal story to tell,” said Anderson. “A story that they will probably recount for many, many years, maybe for their entire lifetime, to future generation of health care workers, and to their children and grandchildren.”

Naperville News 17’s Christian Canizal reports.

 

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