The stories of the strong bond that develops between covid-19 patients and the healthcare workers who treat them have been one humanizing and positive aspect of the cornavirus pandemic.

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It would be hard to find a more heartwarming story of such a bond than the one that occurred this spring between patient Joey Ortiz and his nurse Samantha O’Brien at the AlantiCare Regional Medical Center's Mainland Campus.

O’Brien, an RN, BSN,  and team leader of the Progressive Care Unit had just returned from recovering from Covid-19 herself when she began to care for Ortiz.

“Sam having just come out of being quarantined for COVID-19 herself, she was able to make a special connection with Joey,” says Beth Tieri, RN, clinical manager of the PCU. “It was really heartwarming.”

“Since he was a person with Down syndrome, I knew it was hard for him to understand the visitor policy changes that we and other hospitals had temporarily implemented. I decided to draw some fun pictures on his window. He immediately brightened up.”

Joey’s family says it is grateful for how the team treated Joey and kept them connected with him and his caregivers, including through FaceTime. “By the tone of his voice, I could tell he felt at home,” says his sister Norma Ortiz. “He was getting the attention that he wanted and he wasn’t scared. There was no fear in his voice. I knew that he was comfortable and taken care of.”

O’Brien has worked at ARMC for nine years, first as a medical assistant, then as a patient care technician, before becoming a nurse.

"We're used to caring for patients as if they are members of our own families,” she says. “It’s been  our privilege to take this care to a whole new level.”

Joey Ortiz recovered from Covid-19 and has  returned home, thanks in large part to the nurses in the respiratory care unit during the pandemic. It has cared for many patients who had COVID-19, including Joey Ortiz. Watch more about Joey's story in this video from AtlantiCare...

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