Lee Health remembers those lost to COVID-19 and commemorates frontline workers

Reporter: Anika Henanger Writer: Derrick Shaw
Published: Updated:
Credit: WINK News

Lee Health held an event marking one year since Lee Health lost its first COVID-19 patient.

In addition to a memorial service to honor all those we have lost over the last year, they also commemorated their staff who have fought on the frontlines.

For those working on the frontlines, the past year has been anything but easy.

Nurses say they’re doing all that they can in these heartbreaking situations and that community support is what keeps them going.

Watch below or click here.

One doctor said during the ceremony that the response to the COVID-19 story is still being written. They are still feeling the pain of loss and the frustration and exhaustion that comes with hope.

One year of COVID-19 at Lee Health. The year where fear was spreading and healthcare workers stepped up.

Renee Hoffer is an ER nurse at Cape Coral Hospital. “I had so many mixed emotions, mixed emotions about being scared and afraid,” Hoffer said.

Hoffer cannot forget her first COVID-19 patient. “He was very sick, and I thought he was going to die,” she said. “I actually called his wife so she could speak to him, and even though he couldn’t speak back just so she could say what she wanted to say to him.”

Months later Hoffer learned her first COVID-19 patient didn’t die. He actually beat the virus.

“I made a difference. That it was one life that we didn’t lose. So I felt it, was a success for us just one person meant everything to me,” said Hoffer.

Nurses often took on the role of family to their patients, when they couldn’t be with their loved ones.

Christina Bryan is a Critical Care Nurse at Gulf Coast Medical Center.

“Hearing their worries, their concerns, making phone calls to their families, maybe for the last time, that was tough,” Bryan said.

“They knew they were sick. They knew they were having trouble breathing,” she said. “But they just didn’t understand that medical side of it, of how sick they were of how we were struggling to keep the oxygen going and keep them alive.”

She says those early days made her appreciate how far we’ve come and where we are now. So many more victories over the virus.

“Not having to make those phone calls to families, or FaceTime or whatever else just so they can have a last chance to say I love you to their family,” Bryan said.

The collective message was clear in that this battle is far from over. The same virus that took the first life a year ago is still taking lives today.

Health officials still recommend wearing your mask, keeping a social distance and, when it’s your turn, getting vaccinated. If not, one doctor said we will lose even more people in the future.

Copyright ©2024 Fort Myers Broadcasting. All rights reserved.

This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without prior written consent.