NHS worker who contracted Covid-19 thanks colleagues for saving her life

An NHS worker who was on a ventilator for two weeks after contracting Covid-19 has thanked her colleagues for saving her life.

Karen Stevenson, a radiology administrator at the Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (SFH), was taken to hospital with suspected coronavirus on March 27.

The 43-year-old asked her husband John to call an ambulance after waking up with a fever and difficulty breathing.

She was taken into intensive care at the Trust’s King’s Mill Hospital in Sutton-in-Ashfield, Nottinghamshire, where she remained for 16 days, the Trust said.

Mrs Stevenson, from Mansfield, was applauded by her colleagues as she left a coronavirus ward at the hospital more than three weeks later.

She said she is “proud” to be part of the Trust after the care she received.

Speaking about her experience, the NHS worker said: “I had been unwell for a few days at home and hadn’t been able to get out of bed.

“I had a fever, tight chest and shortness of breath, so I knew I wasn’t right.

“I can remember going to the emergency department and to X-ray, but I can’t remember going to the ward prior to intensive care.

“My next memory is being told that I would be sedated and ventilated. I called my husband and made arrangements with him in case I didn’t make it through.

“The care and compassion was exceptional, but I remember little else during this time, it’s all such a blur.

“I can remember going on to the ward and I was still on a high dose of oxygen, I was very weak and unable to raise my arms, I was pretty much bedridden and unable to swallow normal foods and fluids, so I needed a different diet.”

Praising the work of her colleagues, she said: “The care has been exceptional, all staff from nurses, doctors, carers, therapists and everyone else have been so caring and compassionate.

“I’m so excited to be going home, I haven’t seen my family for nearly a month and I can’t wait to see my children and husband.

“Being an employee of the Trust and seeing the teams in action makes me so proud of the care delivered by SFH staff and I am immensely proud to be part of that team, delivering care in a kind and compassionate way, with humour and with a smile.

“It was the little things that I appreciated so much, for instance when I couldn’t lift my arms, nurses came and helped me with my phone so that I could see and speak to my family, I mean, you can’t get better care and compassion than that can you.

“Although it’s been difficult for me to not see my family and not being able to physically see each other, the Trust has done a fantastic job of keeping them all informed and updated on my progress.

“Thank-you for all the care and compassion given to me and getting me through this difficult time.”

Her husband said: “Whilst it has been a difficult time, especially not being able to see Karen, communication from the hospital has been great, all staff have been really helpful, giving me really good updates and they recommended to ring as often as I wanted to.

“Staff also asked after me and the family, which I thought was really kind and caring.

“The fact that nurses on the ward even helped Karen when she couldn’t lift her phone, to hold her phone up and speak with me and see her family on the phone, was care that goes above and beyond.”

Nurse Justin Wyatt, who helped care for Mrs Stevenson, said: “It’s so tough when you see patients struggling and unable to see their families at this worrying time, but I am so pleased that our teams have been able to ensure that Karen still got to see and talk to her family over the phone.

“We do everything we can to make our patients comfortable and to make sure that they don’t feel isolated whilst on the wards.

“We already have a family atmosphere on the ward as we all look after each other, so I hope that that is coming across to patients too.

“We wish Karen and her family all the best in her recovery and look forward to seeing her again at work once she is fit, well and fully recovered.”