Cape Coral Hospital ICU nurse reflects on pandemic, latest COVID-19 increase

Reporter: Sydney Persing Writer: Derrick Shaw
Published: Updated:
Theresa King
Theresa King is an ICU nurse supervisor at Cape Coral Hospital. (CREDIT: WINK News)

COVID-19 cases are the highest they have been since February in Southwest Florida.

Lee Health on Tuesday said it was treating 93 patients with COVID-19. As of Wednesday, the number of patients had dropped to 83.

Last September, WINK News talked to Cape Coral Hospital’s ICU Nurse Supervisor Theresa King about the deadly delta surge when hundreds of people were hospitalized with COVID-19.

Now, King said she and her team are still grieving the patients they’ve lost.

But, June looks a lot different than September.

“In September we lost 64 patients alone in our 22-bed unit in 30 days,” King said. “Every one of those patients is remembered and mourned for and thought of often.”

King said her team thinks of, remembers and mourns the losses of every person despite how many they were.

In September, King said she sang a dying patient his favorite Jimmy Buffett song.

Now, she drinks out of a Jimmy Buffett mug.

“When I saw that cup for sale in our uniform shop, I’m like, that’s destined to be, I’m supposed to have that cup,” King said.

King takes that cup to work every day and the work never ends.

Her team doesn’t just include doctors and nurses.

“I was taking care of a patient who was starting to actively die and the housekeeper Maruja was in at his bedside mopping the floor. I hollered at her to please hold his hand because we assured that not one of our patients would pass alone. As I was getting my PPE on she dropped her mop, she grabbed his hand. She spoke to him. She stayed even after I got my PPE on and was at the bedside with her. She stayed with us. And she stayed until he was finally gone,” King said.

While Lee Health is treating the most patients since February, this time around they aren’t nearly as sick.

“I don’t know if much can scare us after what we went through with Delta. I think we’re a little gun shy and maybe a little apprehensive,” King said.

But also, despite the odds, hopeful.

What almost broke them down is now nine months in the rearview mirror.

“While we had tremendous loss, we did end up on the other side with each other. With either, with more faith or more hope, or at least more knowledge of what we need to do to be better,” King said.

King shared one more deeply personal story centered around a special needs patient who touched everyone in the ICU.

They were unable to save him, but they honor him.

Watch it in the media player below.

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