Although Latonya couldn’t recall all of the details of her stay, another nurse stuck in her memory. Teri Steele, a SICU nurse who picked up a shift in the COVID-19 unit, was by Latonya’s side for more than a week.
Because Latonya still needed ventilator support and couldn’t speak just yet, Steele communicated with her by using a chart. That way, Latonya could point to words and feelings to express herself.
“I remember waking up and wondering why I was in this position,” Latonya said in reference to being on ventilator support in a hospital bed. “When I wanted to cry or give up, Nurse Teri motivated me to push through the discomfort. She encouraged me to stay strong.”
Steele went one step further and used her laptop to help Latonya connect with her family on Zoom. Latonya was more than thrilled to see familiar faces.
“Her family was so kind and supportive of her,” Steele said. “They were just happy to see each other! It was strong motivation for her to see them every day.”
Before one particular Zoom session, Steele reached out to Latonya’s family and asked if they could show some memorabilia from home during the video session. They showed one of her favorite blankets and a stuffed bear. Latonya’s face lit up. She says the Zoom visits with family kept her strong and determined. Steele made sure Latonya could see as many family members as she requested, including her two sons, granddaughter and most of her extended family.
Latonya could not express enough gratitude for Steele’s small act of kindness to help her connect with family and Turbeville’s dedication to keeping them informed.
“Nurse Teri, Nurse Nate and all other nurses and staff who cared for me are the ones who need to be recognized because they’re putting themselves in danger to save other people’s lives,” said Latonya, as she teared up. “You have to be truly special to do that. Everyone at UF Health was called to do what they do. They are a blessing to me and my family.”