After spending 34 years as a nurse, most recently now as a member of the intensive care unit team (ICU) at Mercy Health – Springfield Regional Medical Center, Kim Sowards has seen first-hand the amazing care given to patients. But it wasn’t until she experienced it herself that she realized just how special this team, and this calling, is.
Like hundreds of patients whom she previously helped serve, Kim became very sick after being diagnosed with COVID-19. She found herself in the intensive care unit and remembers the constant companionship provided by her husband of 22 years, Mark, until he, too, became sick.
Both husband and wife, who had spent so much of their lives caring for each other, became patients of the medical center’s ICU.
“Mark had no preexisting conditions, but he waited a long time to get treatment partially because he was so focused on taking care of me,” Kim recalls. “My own husband was one of the sickest. I never knew till he was there, what those nurses face.”
As Mark developed issues related to COVID-19 – including blood clots, gastrointestinal bleeding and had chest tubes inserted – Kim was able to visit from her hospital room and pray. Despite his amazing medical care, after spending a month in the hospital, Mark passed away on Feb. 3.
“We didn’t get to bring him home, but so many lives have changed, especially mine,” Kim says. “I have to be able to tell this story.”
Kim was heartbroken by her husband’s death, but was so comforted by the care he received that she felt compelled to not only thank her fellow nurses but also share her experience. She wants others to know that the team at Springfield Regional Medical Center are “some of the best nurses in the world.”
“Dr. Amit Arora is one of the most compassionate people I’ve ever known,” Kim says. “His expertise helped give me three weeks with my husband that otherwise I would never have had.”
She notes that her list of those who helped her through this time – either by caring for her or her husband – was extraordinary long. She names Holly Rapp, who provides education to patients, for the time she spent bringing joy to her husband when she came to visit. Also, Rhonda Beane, chief nursing officer for Mercy Health – Springfield, whose support was amazing.
Kim was also comforted by the compassion shown to her by her manager, Drue Adams.
“I am overwhelmed with the love and the support we have received – endless meals, flowers, gift cards and even a GoFundMe account from the ICU and COVID-19 teams that helped to pay our bills during the three months I was off of work,” she says. “My eyes were opened so wide with all of this.”
Kim, who is now back at work, knows she will forever be grateful for those who helped her through her illness and her loss. She has an even deeper understanding of the importance of nurses and is so grateful to be surrounded by truly compassionate people. Kim knows her path forward will be difficult without Mark by her side, but she has come to realize that she has a broader family on whom she will always be able to rely.
“He was my best friend, and I know if I need to take a break, my team is there to support me. They are my best friends, too,” Kim says.
She adds, “I cry because of sadness, but also I cry because of all of the love and support I received. I had no idea how many people loved and cared for us.”
Learn more about what Mercy Health is doing to fight COVID-19.