Recovering COVID-19 patient looks forward to Mother’s Day

Recovering COVID-19 patient looks forward to Mother’s Day

Jeanne Hansen didn’t think she’d be around to celebrate another Mother’s Day.

Just three weeks ago, the 63-year-old was breathing through a ventilator in Advocate Condell Medical Center’s intensive care unit. She thought her life was ending because of COVID-19 and was pondering how she would divide her assets among her two adult daughters.

That’s when a hospital social worker asked if she’d like to have a video visit from her daughters using a hospital iPad. Condell and other Advocate Aurora Health hospitals implemented video visits as a way for patients to connect to loved ones virtually while physical visits are restricted to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

“Although I am very religious, I really was in a very dark place,” Hansen said. “I didn’t want to live like that anymore. Michelle, my older daughter, called on Facetime. She could see the look on my face. I said, ‘I can’t do this.’ She said, ‘Yes – you have to, Mom. We have more days ahead of us. We have a lot more zoo outings and pumpkin patches.’ That is what turned me around. I have to survive for my kids.”

Hansen spent three weeks in the hospital, including two weeks in the intensive care unit. Every day, she says, is a gift.

Now recovering at home in Lake County, Hansen is being cared for by her younger daughter, Becca Haynes. Her elder daughter, Michelle Hansen, is planning to come into town Monday to take over for Haynes. Since they couldn’t be with her in person at the hospital, the daughters appreciated the consistent updates from their mother’s care team. Haynes summarized the updates in daily Facebook posts to keep extended family, friends and members of Lindenhurst’s St. Mark Lutheran Church community in the loop about her mother’s progress.

The daughters also appreciated being involved in their mother’s care through virtual visits. In partnership with health information technology staff, nursing staff, social workers and other hospital team members facilitate virtual visits – providing a human touch to the virtual experience. Team members don full personal protective equipment to bring the iPad or other device into a patient’s room and make the connection via Zoom or FaceTime. After the visit, the device is cleaned with disinfectant.

“Our team has really embraced the use of this technology to help their patients connect with their loved ones and vice versa – in some cases to help family understand the situation,” said Shawna Zabkiewicz, manager, case management, Advocate Condell Medical Center. “The patient can benefit by connecting with their loved ones, which can assist with recovery and make their hospital stay less isolating and scary. Isolation can lead to depression, which can weaken the immune system, impacting the body’s ability to fight off infection.”

Amy Case, the social worker who assisted the Hansen family, has observed improvements in patients after virtual visits.

“In several instances even when patients are on ventilators and somewhat unresponsive, we’ve seen patients open their eyes or otherwise respond positively to the sound of their family member’s voice,” Case said.

For Jeanne Hansen, seeing her daughters’ faces allowed her to re-connect to life outside the hospital. She returned home April 23 to a parade of well wishers driving past her house, holding up signs to welcome her back.

“It’s so hard not having contact with your family. Or your friends,” she said. “Seeing them (via virtual visits) got me through. It kept me going.”

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About the Author

Lisa Parro
Lisa Parro

Lisa Parro, health enews contributor, is manager of content strategy for Advocate Aurora Health. A former journalist, Lisa has been in health care public relations since 2008 and has a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University. She and her family live in Chicago’s western suburbs.