A year after the first COVID-19 death at Mary Greeley, hospital staff to honor lives lost
"Here Comes the Sun" will play over the Mary Greeley Medical Center PA system Tuesday following a moment of silence, marking one year since the first COVID-19-related death at the Ames hospital.
Intensive and Coronary Care Unit nurse manager Julie Scebold said the song has been used by staff to celebrate the successes during a year filled with so much loss. Every time it's played, she said clapping from outside the ICCU can be heard.
"For about three or four days we threw around some different songs," Scebold said. "It was just a way for us to reflect on the positive that things are better for a particular patient."
Tuesday's moment of silence will honor those who lost their lives to COVID-19, with the state reporting 47 Story County residents having died of the illness. The hospital discharged 568 COVID-19 patients and saw 57 deaths over the last year, according to a news release.
In the release, Mary Greeley welcomes others in Story County to participate in one minute of silence at 1:30 p.m.
The day will also be a day of reflection for medical professionals at Mary Greeley Medical Center who showed resilience over the last year, Scebold said.
"When they first said that we were going to do this, it's like, 'Wow, it's been a year,'" Scebold said. "I never thought it was going to have the impact it did have on us."
Scebold said preparation ahead of the U.S. lockdown felt similar to the Ebola virus outbreak which brought only 11 cases to the U.S.
Amber Deardorff, Mary Greeley Vice President of Operations, said preparing for COVID-19 started as just an exercise last January as the virus raged through China. Scebold realized this virus would be different while texting co-workers from a boat in the middle of the ocean, one last vacation before the world would shut down.
"There's graduations families didn't get to go to. Weddings that people didn't get to go to," Scebold said. "We're just now starting to unpack those feelings of what we've been through."
As her team worked long shifts back-to-back, Scebold said she only heard people ask how they could help, never complaining.
"You do it because you know you have a job to do," Scebold said. "And it's something that we love."
As Mary Greeley nears this anniversary, COVID-19 continues to be a looming presence on daily life. With over a million Iowans fully vaccinated, over 30,000 in Story County, heard immunity remains out of reach.
"I want people to know we all want to go back to normal," Deardorff said. "In this time, it's critically important that people go out and get vaccinated."