Timpanogos Regional Hospital honors all affected by COVID-19
In a courtyard on the northeast corner of Timpanogos Regional Hospital, a single evergreen tree will serve as a reminder of those who survived, died and provided care throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
The hospital hosted an evening of remembrance, gratitude and hope honoring the COVID-19 survivors and those who died fighting the disease Monday. White and green flags were placed in the courtyard to recognize patients who fought their battle at TRH. Green flags symbolized those who recovered, and there were 1,100 green flags, according to Brittany Glas, media relations director.
“Green is the color of rebirth, growth and renewal,” she said. “White flags are a representation of those who died to the disease.”
Surviving patients Michael “Mitch” Mitchell and Larry Barney attended the event. Mitchell shared his journey through COVID-19, and Chelsey Barney, Larry’s wife, spoke about her commitment to her husband during his darkest time.
“I was admitted Dec. 8, 2021, with critical illness myopathy related to COVID-19 phenomena. On Dec. 24, things took a turn for the worse, and I was put on a ventilator at that point,” Mitchell said. “After over four weeks, I woke up and my kidneys and lungs began to function again, and they were able to take me off the ventilator. I left here Feb. 3, and I had a question I couldn’t let go of. Why me? After working with a therapist, I came up with why not me? So many people are no longer with us. So why me?”
Mitchell shared part of an email he had received from the hospital. He said he would never be able to forget what it read.
“‘It is difficult for me to express for me how much I needed one win,'” said Mitchell, reading the email. “‘Even after witnessing over 100 upsetting deaths, Mitch was it.’ So, this wasn’t for me, my friends or family. Me pulling through was for someone who really needed just that one win to keep going.”
Larry Barney tested positive for COVID-19 Aug. 10, 2021, and had to be admitted into the hospital Aug. 21, according to his wife.
“By Aug. 27, things took a turn for the worse,” she said. “My worst nightmare happened. Larry was fighting for his life on a ventilator. Seeing my husband, who is the strongest person I know, was just there lifeless was something I’ll never forget. Knowing our son Leo could possibly lose his daddy was heartbreaking.”
Chelsey and Larry’s family stood by his side for three long months before he recovered enough to be released Nov. 19 from the Intensive Care Unit.
“The amazing doctors, nurses and respiratory team all fought as hard as we did,” Chelsey said. “Because of their dedication and long, exhausting hours they put in, we still have Larry. We will never forget what all of you have done and continue to do. You are all heroes.”
ICU physician Neil Rosenberg helped save the lives of both Mitchell and Barney. He thanked both of them for staying in touch with the hospital staff because it has meant the world to them.
“We have a staff in the ICU that rotates on and off, so I think we all had an opportunity to take care them,” he said. “Larry was here for three months, and we all had time to take care of him. Mitch was also here for a few months, and we saw that emotional roller coaster that Chelsey was describing. His family went through great pains to put up pictures of his kid, and I have little kids too. I’d go in there and it’s just heartbreaking because I could imagine what it would be like if that were me or my family.”
A moment of silence was held during the ceremony. During that time, caregivers of patients and loved ones were encouraged to take a blue flag and place them around the white and green ones to represent the support given to all afflicted with COVID-19.
Representatives from the ICU and respiratory therapy department took a moment to thank and recognize each department were for its outstanding efforts during the past two years.
The evergreen will be planted with a plaque reading, “We remembers the lives that were lost to COVID-19. We honor the lives saved. We express gratitude to the caregivers at Timpanogos Regional Hospital.”