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(Originally Published July 12, 2021) – Philip DeLong of Lancaster doesn’t know the names and faces of many of the staff members who cared for him during his 34-day stay at Fairfield Medical Center last fall. What he does know is that, without them, he likely wouldn’t be here today.

On July 9, Philip and his wife, Sandie DeLong, had the opportunity to reunite with the providers and staff members who cared for Philip during his hospitalization with COVID-19. Philip, 65, was admitted to FMC on Nov. 17, 2020 and was discharged to another facility on Dec. 23, 2020 for ongoing therapy and rehabilitation. In total, he was treated at two hospitals and two rehabilitation facilities before he returned home on Feb. 21. Eight months later, he continues to experience the long-term effects of COVID-19.

“I don’t remember much about my stay, but I do remember that everyone was so personable and cared for me well,” Philip said. “I don’t know how the nurses, doctors, housekeepers and staff do it. To come to work every day, risking their lives to care for others. I am so appreciative of everything they have done for me.” Throughout his stay at FMC, Philip and Sandie had interactions with staff members from almost every department at FMC, including Fairfield Healthcare Professionals Pulmonology and Critical Care, Outpatient Therapy Services, Environmental Services, Observation, ICU, Respiratory Therapy and Fairfield Healthcare Infectious Disease and Pulmonary Rehabilitation. During Friday’s reunion, Philip had the opportunity to meet those staff members face-to-face, many of whom brought cards of encouragement and love for the couple. The departments that cared for Philip and Sandie also were awarded FMC Foundation Legendary Caregiver awards during the event.

Jarrod Bruce, MD, of FHP Pulmonology and Critical Care, was one of Philip’s providers and spoke during the reunion about his patient’s long and difficult journey to recovery. At one point, Philip’s family was brought in for an emergency meeting amid concerns that he would not survive. After Philip was discharged to another facility, Dr. Bruce wondered if he would ever see him again.

“When I saw Philip walk in the office for a follow up, there were clearly a lot of emotions,” Dr. Bruce said. “It was a completion of a journey, an amazing one. That time was so busy for so many of us in the ICU that we didn’t really even have a chance to know about our patients who were discharged or about how our patients who survived their ICU stay fared. There was this feeling of joy. It was evidence that what we did mattered.”

Learn more about the FMC Foundation’s Grateful Patient Program, click here.