Although this story is about Jeffrey Gerson, we have a rhetorical question for you: to what extent will you go to say THANK YOU to your helpers?
Sometimes we take our Doctors, Nurses, Paramedics, Laboratory Technicians for granted, with the mindset that they are paid to do the job.
Well…not in the case of Jeffrey Gerson, a covid survivor.
Jeffrey Gerson was admitted on March 18 at the NYU Langone Tisch Hospital, Manhattan with a 103 degree fever, persistent coughing and key signs of Covid-19.
He went on a ventilator the very next day, slipped into a coma, and woke up a month later with no idea of what transpired in that period and unaware of the great effort frontline workers invested to save his life.
However, when the 44-year-old financial professional returned home, he felt a deep sense of commitment to thank all 116 doctors, nurses, therapists and other anonymous medical heroes who stood by him in his hour of need.
To put it in perspective, when Jeffrey Gerson arrived arrived at the hospital, there were 170 coronavirus patients, all on ventilators. Over the course of the next 3 months, about 40% of the hospital’s ventilated COVID-19 victims died.
In about 6 months, Jeffrey Gerson employed the assistance of the hospital app, turned into an online detective, and used his personal insurance records to track down dozens of his benefactors across the world.
He also spent the Thanksgiving period painstakingly penning words of deep appreciation to everyone.
Six months after being declared well, Jeffrey still recalls his miraculous recovery and writes:
“If you are receiving this letter, it is because I have become aware that you had a part in saving my life,”
“It is only after much effort on my part to find your names that I realize just how many of you there were.“
I was crying every morning, literally, I had questions: Why did I survive? I certainly had thoughts about what I needed to do in my life now, to make this worthwhile.
“I was just really thankful, and lucky, and grateful,”
“I wanted to say thank you. I just wanted to thank everybody.”
His first thought was to throw a party, but a peek outside his hospital room window gave him a glimpse of how the world had changed since his recovery.
Jeffrey Gerson explained that he had no idea what the rest of the world was going through:
“I was just so thankful these people were doing their job and taking the risks they had taken. And my inability to thank them for such special and heroic treatment was really leaving a void in my recovery process.”
After a long time, Gerson compiled his list and composed a heartfelt three-page message of appreciation which he sent to his benefactors in November.
Jeffrey Gerson gives us a lesson in gratitude as he takes time to appreciate the members of the 116-strong team that saved his life from Coronavirus.
He got the names from the MyChart app, which computes who ordered the hundreds of tests he underwent. Another nurse helped him get 60 names from a spreadsheet; and his insurance reports showed names connected with his claims.
The compiled list of devoted workers, whose efforts spared his life, included volunteers from areas like Kentucky, California, Georgia and visiting nurses from coast to coast.
In those early days of the coronavirus, doctors didn’t have much idea about the pandemic, and the fatality rate was very high.
Jeffrey Gerson came out of the coma on April 17 and was discharged a week later. To celebrate him, hospital employees gathered in the hallway to applaud him as he went home.
He told CNN that he never had the chance of meeting many of the frontline workers,
“Except for the nurses that I was directly interacting with, there really wasn’t an opportunity to say thank you to anybody. It left a void in my emotional recovery. Here I am having survived, I’m crying with joy every morning and I feel a huge debt of gratitude to these people who I can’t even talk to because they’re not coming into my room.”
He sent the letter in November to a dedicated hospital administrator, who passed it along to the staff.
In the end, Gerson failed to reach just one of his saviours, Dr. Sydney Mehl, who treated him only to die weeks later from the Coronavirus.
Gerson said he was searching the internet for Mehl’s contact information only to find his obituary.
Gerson has since reached out to his wife, and found her through Facebook.
“He was dedicated right to the end. That’s the kind of doctor he was.”
He contacted Mehl’s family to express his appreciation and donated to the late doctor’s memorial fund.
Jeffrey Gerson opines:
It occurs to me that this doctor who gave his life fighting Covid, that I was one of the last patients, if not the last patient he treated”.
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