DENVER — Kimberly Dotson and her husband were blindsided. They don't know where or how they contracted the coronavirus, but within a matter of weeks, both were in the intensive care unit of St. Luke's Presbyterian Hospital. They credit the care they received from the nurses there with their recoveries.
"What they do for people, it can't be matched," Kimberly told Denver7.
She relived the story of ending up in the hospital with pneumonia, which got worse, ultimately leading to a positive test for COVID-19. She had to be intubated, and woke up days later in the intensive care unit, only to learn that her husband Rufus was also in the ICU with a coronavirus diagnosis.
"Both of us in the ICU, I'm hanging on, he's barely hanging on. So it was very difficult," she said.
One of the things that helped, according to Kimberly, was the attentive care she received from the nurses on her floor.
"I think It was because of my nurses that I pulled through," she said. "Because they were so attentive and right there for me."
She shared how the nurses had wheeled her bed past her husband's room and cracked the door so she could see him before she was transferred to another floor. They would also play recorded video messages from her to him when they were just a few doors apart.
"The nurses worked so hard to keep them connected so they could continue to root for each other," Jennifer Wheeling of Presbyterian St. Luke's said in an interview.
Wheeling oversees the 40 nurses in the intensive care unit. She spoke about the difficulty of being a nurse during a pandemic, working 12-hour shifts behind personal protective equipment, dealing with the anxiety and emotion that comes with seeing patients on some of their worst days, all while adding an extra level of personal care.
"The nurses have been doing a lot of extra work to make sure (their patients) feel very cared for and not so alone through the battle," Wheeling said.
"They give you the fight, they give you the encouragement, they give you the caring experience," Kimberly said.
Wheeling said that kind of sentiment is so important for frontline medical workers to hear, especially on National Nurse Appreciation Day (May 6th).
"Especially when they're working so hard to know that they are appreciated, it means a lot," she said.
The thanks and appreciation that is being sent to St. Luke's nurses from Kimberly isn't all about her recovery. It's about her husband's too. He was recently discharged from the hospital.
"From the bottom of my heart: thank you, thank you very much," Kimberly said.