CarolinaEast celebrates its first ICU patient to survive delta variant

New Bern

NEW BERN, N.C. (WNCT) — CarolinaEast Medical Center staff was celebrating on Thursday.

One COVID ICU patient is off the ventilator and in the rehab unit. Cindy Buck is now on the road to recovery, but the 62-year-old still has a long way to go before she’s back on her feet.

Out of all the COVID patients CarolinaEast has seen in the ICU during the pandemic, Buck is the first patient with the delta variant to survive. Doctors said they needed this win, after seeing so much loss.

“Mainly thankful for God that has allowed me this second chance and I plan to use it,” said Buck.

Buck has been in the ICU at CarolinaEast since September 4.

“I was brought here by ambulance and that’s the last thing I remember, up to about 10 days ago,” she said.

Doctors placed Buck on a ventilator four days later. She stayed on that ventilator until October 9.

Flash forward to Thursday, when hospital staff lined the hallways to celebrate Buck’s move from the ICU to the rehab center. Nurses wheeled her to her new room, while healthcare workers cheered and clapped.

“Today is a very emotional, glorious day,” said Dr. Patty Ohrum-Bergmueller, an ICU physician. “I needed this. I’ve really been struggling this go-round. I really, really needed this.”

It’s a move Buck’s doctors didn’t think she would ever make.

“We literally called the family in at one point and said, we don’t think she’s gonna survive and had them come in,” said Ohrum-Bergmueller. “To see this happen now, I’m telling you, it’s a miracle.”

Buck said her grandchildren helped get her through.

“I have a little grandson that sang to me ‘You are My Sunshine,’ and every time they played it to me, they said they could feel my heart rate,” said Buck. “They knew I could hear him and I could. He really rounded the corner for me. I said ‘I’ve got to get back to him.’ God said ‘yeah, send you back’.”

Buck now has a long road ahead of her. She will undergo three hours of therapy daily, learning to swallow again and regaining her strength. While Buck recovers, she has a message to share with the community.

“I was a gymgoer,” she said. “I didn’t think I could get sick, but I know better now. This is real. Very real. People need to really take it serious.”

Buck is unvaccinated. Doctors continue to plead with the community to get vaccinated. They said it could save your life.

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