First COVID Patient Treated at St. Luke’s UB Returns, Thanks Staff

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Credit: St. Luke's University Health Network

Michele Grida’s caregivers at St. Luke’s Upper Bucks Campus celebrated her survival from a near-fatal case of COVID-19 during Grida’s visit to the hospital to thank the staffs of the ICU and Third Floor. Pictured from left: Brenda Costello, RN, Melissa Juchno, RN, Paige Lieberman, RN, Michele Grida, Megan Maskornick, RN, and Sharon Michael Rogers, RN.

Michele Grida recently paid a return visit to St. Luke’s Upper Bucks hospital, buoyed by a renewed sense of gratitude and purpose. It was the one-year anniversary of her fever-induced collapse and emergency admission to the ICU with a near-fatal case of COVID. She went back to thank her caregivers at the Quakertown area hospital, where she was the first patient to be treated for COVID-19.

“I don’t take a single day for granted,” said the 50-year-old Richlandtown resident. “It’s my new philosophy on life.”

Thanks to the staff at St. Luke’s Upper Bucks, Grida came a long way in a year, surviving the respiratory virus and regaining her sense of self and her life’s priorities.

She brought lunch from Sal’s Pizza Randa of Quakertown to the hospital’s ICU and third floor, where doctors and nurses had wrenched her from COVID’s menacing grasp last year.

“I remember that day we intubated Michele at Upper Bucks,” said ICU nurse Gisele Commins, RN, BSN, CCRN. “She was our very first COVID-19 intubation. I held the phone so she could hear her husband’s voice while she was on the ventilator. Michele had a long and complicated illness, but seeing her makes all the hard work worth it and gives me hope that my patients can recover.”

Megan Maskornick, RN, who took care of Grida on the medical-surgical unit after she had left the ICU, recalls how weak her patient was.

“Michele needed help taking steps to get to a chair or the bathroom,” Maskornick said. “She had really gone through the ringer with this virus.”

But on her return visit to the unit, Maskorknick said, “She looked amazing. She has a glowing smile and was truly thankful for all that we did for her. I was so happy to see how far she has come.”

Grida, who is the Director of Quality Improvement for the Sellersville-based Penn Foundation, was proud to be fully ambulatory on her return visit.

“I’m walking on my own, no walker, wheelchair or cane,” she said, beaming.

As she continues to regain her strength, both physically and emotionally, Grida said her outlook continues to evolve, too.

“I don’t ask ‘why me,’ but I’m thankful, especially to the nurses who have a passion for saving lives,” she said. “I want to be passionate like the nurses and leave a legacy.”

Surviving the infection that has left more than 600,000 Americans dead sparked the change in her life’s narrative. Awareness and empathy for others’ struggles are more in her thoughts than ever, she admitted.

“I’ve become more mindful of what people are going through, especially family and friends,” she said.

Note: This local health news is brought to you in partnership with St. Luke’s University Health Network.

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