Utica, N.Y. - There was a big wave of support last spring and summer for the nurses, doctors and other hospital staff members who put themselves in danger everyday to care for others during COVID. Now, thanks to a local COVID survivor, there may once again be a push for people to show their appreciation now as we go through this second wave.
Barbara Lambright, who lives in East Utica, is now back home. Her Christmas tree still up, her presents still underneath.
Lambright's Christmas was put on hold on December 23rd, when she tested positive for COVID.
She went into St. Elizabeth Medical Center that day, admitted for the night and was released the next day, told to quarantine at home and as a result couldn't see her family for the holidays.
Barbara says her breathing got so bad that on January 4th she called her primary care doctor who said get to the ER immediately.
Barbara was admitted that day and says at one point during her hospital stay her breathing got even worse, so bad that she didn't think she'd ever make it back home.
She did. She was released on Sunday, January 10th to continue her recovery at home.
The next morning she called to see if I was interested in doing a story. She wanted to know if we could get her message across. A message of thank you to the doctors and nurses who cared for her, gave her hope, and got her well enough to go home, she says someone needs to know what these men and women are going through right now, "I wanna say thank you from the bottom of my heart, I can breathe, you were everything to me. I don’t wanna cry. If you think that this isn’t real, oh my God, please God, I hope no one ever gets this."
MVHS Registered Nurse Deb Graziano says hearing that kind of appreciation is very much appreciated, "Stress level is high for COVID nursing but we appreciate it. There's been a lot of outpouring of community support, different restaurants have sent us food. We had a 4th grade class today, I'm not sure what school, sent us a box of snacks and drinks and that always boosts morale."
Graziano admits it is a struggle for the staff as capacity gets fuller and fuller.
She says she wasn't surprised to hear that Harbor-UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles, just today, reached capacity and had to turn trauma patients away, "It's believable now, I didn't believe it last spring, I believe it now. We still have space so we just do the best you can with what you have."
When asked how close to capacity MVHS is, MVHS Spokesperson Caitlin McCann said, "We are working to expand capacity again, so I can't give exact numbers, but we are close to being full."
Barbara Lambright says her heart goes out to the men and women on the front lines who continue to battle this fight as the COVID numbers seem to just keep getting worse, "It’s not even like there's an end to it for them right now and that’s what's so sad. I mean yeah, the vaccine will get out, we'll get it, we'll do what we’re supposed to do, but you've got to remember these people, they’re just every day people that you would see in the grocery store and someone may say, oh well she’s a nurse, she’s a nurse, no, she’s an angel from heaven."