Triumphs in darkness
COVID-19 survivor shares his story and gratitude about the staff of 6K at Upstate
BY AMBER SMITH
The story was about the people working on 6K at Upstate University Hospital, a unit dedicated to patients with COVID-19, and how they helped save the life of a man from Rome.
It appeared on the front page of The Post-Standard on Thanksgiving, when the newspaper anticipates an increase in readership because of all the extra advertising for Black Friday, the start of the holiday shopping season. The story also was posted on Syracuse.com and shared on Facebook and Twitter – thousands of times.
All of Central New York, it seemed, learned of Greg Jenkins, 58, of Rome, who loved the outdoors, hunting, fishing and hiking, and who was healthy – until he became infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. That year, 2020, he had much for which to be thankful, he said as he sat across the table from his wife, Joanna.
The Jenkinses told the newspaper reporter, Marnie Eisenstadt, they were fairly sure they got infected at a large event they attended in October. They were pretty much the only ones wearing masks. Greg started feeling ill three days later.
He managed his illness at home and wasn’t admitted to Upstate until Oct. 23, after suffering with a fever for 11 days that left him with hallucinations. As breathing became more difficult, and he lost the strength to stand, he had Joanna drive him to Syracuse. Greg had lost 30 pounds, could not smell or taste anything and had a bad cough when he settled into a room on 6K.
Joanna tested positive but never had symptoms. No one has been able to explain why the virus barely fazes some, while it means a hospital stay for others.
Greg was hospitalized for two weeks. He was grateful to the whole staff, including those who were quoted in the newspaper story: assistant nurse manager Crystal Marshall, Jennifer Tyson from environmental services, Zac Shepherd, MD, and respiratory therapist Danielle Pelc.
“The fight is hard on 6K. So, when there are good moments, they celebrate,” Eisenstadt wrote.
She described a bell on the counter of the nurse’s station, which previously was used for patients waiting in the hall for a room.
“One day, early in the pandemic, someone took the bell out and rang it when a negative COVID-19 test came through. And then they began ringing it when coronavirus patients got better and left.
“It is a bright little ding that hangs over the staccato machine beeps and whoosh of the sliding doors.
“It has rung hundreds of times by now. But if you are around when it happens, you clap, you cheer. It is triumph in darkness.”
Greg Jenkins got to ring the bell on Nov. 6.