Sentara Obici holds memorial ceremony for COVID patients

Southeast Region

SUFFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Front-line workers at a local hospital wanted to remember their patients who lost their lives to COVID-19.

On Tuesday, dozens gathered behind Sentara Obici Hospital at a stone plaque set in a patio in honor of those patients.

Hospital officials say more than 1,800 people have come in over the last 20 months to be treated for COVID-19. Of those patients, 248 died.

“To have so many people come out today was affirming that this was the time and the thing to do. This was in response to the request from our caregivers,” said hospital President David Masterson.

Masterson says the pandemic has been challenging for those working in healthcare and the ceremony was a type of closure for many who worked closely with those battling COVID-19.

For employee Rose Bailey, the memorial was also a “thank you” to the coworkers that saved her life.

“It’s very humbling to me to be one of the survivors,” she said.

Bailey has worked at Sentara Obici for 42 years. She works in the quality improvement office, away from patients, and took all the safety precautions before somehow contracting COVID-19 in July.

“Even when some of the restrictions were lifted, I still wore my mask. I had family members. I wanted to be cautious but I still got it,” she said.

Bailey was fully vaccinated in January. When she first started getting symptoms at first she thought it was an upper respiratory cough and a stuffy nose.

But when her body temperature increased and her oxygen dropped, she tested positive for the coronavirus and ended up in the hospital for four weeks. Bailey just recently returned to work in November because of her recovery.

“It’s very sad for the family members who have lost loved ones. I personally know people I’ve lost who have died of COVID. I hear their stories and know it was my story. But I got better and survived. I just pray for their families. I know how much my family prayed for me-family and friends. I lift them up to prayer all the time. It means a lot to be a survivor and working here — I love this place,” she said.

Masterson says the ceremony also honored those front-line workers Bailey thanked for their sacrifices.

But he also hopes the memorial stone provides a bit of hope for all who also survived.

“You tend to want to wait and look back to celebrate and recognize. It will be a long time before it’s [the pandemic] is over and it was just in time for people to feel that renewed hope that there is a positive out there. We’re going to continue to care for every person presented to us with COVID or otherwise in keeping our community healthy,” Masterson said.

Masterson encourages people to continue to get vaccinated.

Bailey will be getting her booster shot in December after having to wait due to COVID-19 treatment.

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