Among the grateful North Shore patients who have beaten the odds by surviving a severe case of the coronavirus is Ronkonkoma resident Vicki Burns.
The 61-year-old stopped by St. Catherine of Siena Medical Center in Smithtown July 31 to say thank you to the health care workers who cared for her as she battled COVID-19 this past spring. Two dozen of those workers were on hand to greet her outside of the hospital’s entrance, and each of them, one by one, presented her with a flower that they placed in a vase to form a bouquet.
“You don’t have a bouquet with one flower, right?” said nurse manager Lisa Koshansky to Burns after the presentation. “This is your team. So, each person was part of your bouquet that made up that whole team that took care of you.”
Koshansky added that Burns affected everyone in the hospital during her two-month stay and, when she left, they all excitedly lined the halls as the Beatles’ “Here Comes the Sun” played.
Burns said she remembered the day, too.
“It was another step for me to get closer to home,” she said.
The original visit to the hospital was followed by a few weeks in a rehabilitation center and countless doctor visits. During her stay at St. Catherine’s, Burns was in the COVID unit, the intensive care unit, critical care unit and then moved to a room in the hospital’s 3 North section.
Many of the staff members shared stories with her about her time at the hospital including how her husband, Ed Burns, called every day to check in. Workers would talk to him via FaceTime and show him his wife, even when she was in the prone position to increase oxygen levels; he was happy if all he saw was her head.
“He never left her side,” physician assistant Dana Lamparter said. “He would park in the parking lot and call us.”
When asked what she remembered about her stay, Burns said the crazy dreams she would have. Lamparter told her that once she did wake up, she was chatty and making up for the time she missed talking.
It was the first time Burns was able to connect names to faces since she was unconscious most of her hospital stay.
“It’s so hard to remember the name to each person, but it’s nice to see everybody that helped me,” Burns said.