One bright light in COVID: The elation of recovery

Kendra Grilliot, a nurse in the ICU at the Dayton VA who has been treating COVID patients, has learned to appreciate the joyful moments hidden among the difficulties of working with COVID patients.

Patients in the intensive care environment - after the worst of the COVID infections are behind them - have to work hard to build stamina up before being discharged. Some want to go home. Some need to be moved to long-term care facilities. It’s physical and emotional work just to get their strength back.

But then, the moment arrives.

“They’re just so excited when they get to open their doors and they’re not in isolation anymore. They honestly will just cry and be like, ‘I never thought what was going to happen, you know?’” Grilliot said.

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In 2008, Grilliot started her career as a nursing assistant in the ICU and since earned her degree to become an RN.

In the spring, Grilliot had deployed to Detroit VA to assist with their influx of COVID-stricken veterans. There were acute care nurses working in the ICU and she helped train them on ICU technique and protocols.

“I went there to give them relief, because their full time staff were really overwhelmed,” she said.

For the nursing staff at the Dayton VA, she said it has been emotional working with COVID-19 patients, who don’t have family there to support them in person.

One patient was there for 20 days and Grilliot cared for every day that she worked during that span.

“It’s bittersweet to see them leave but you’re very happy for them when they get to go home,” Grilliot said.

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