LAKE ST. LOUIS, Mo. – SSM Health St. Joseph Hospital – Lake Saint Louis announced Monday it had its first day without a single COVID-19 positive patient in its hospital. The hospital has treated around 600 COVID patients since the start of the pandemic.
During Monday’s employee huddle, staff heard the good news and many teared up.
“Every morning we have a safety huddle and we talk about our covid patients, among other things throughout the house, and when they announced that we had absolutely no covid infections today, everyone cheered, it was kind of a moment we got goosebumps,” Elaine Stern, Director of ICU and Stepdown at SSM Health St. Joseph Hospital – Lake Saint Louis said.
Just four months ago, the hospital had overflow tents outside its emergency room to help with an influx of patients.
“A year ago I feel like there was so much unknown, we didn’t know if this was going to go away in a year,” Stearn said. “There were a lot of tears shed over the last year, it was really hard for everyone in the hospitals
She said healthcare workers were dealing with a new disease and figuring out how to stop the spread, while also learning how to protect patients and themselves. Stearn said the news Monday was something they had been looking forward to.
“There’s a light at the end of the tunnel,” she said.
But it still brings about bittersweet feelings to remember those lives lost to the virus.
“We fought really hard, we’ve lost a lot of people and it’s nice to see hope,” Stearn added.
She said the feeling in the hospital is there is hope on the horizon, but also a sense of caution because the virus is still here.
“A lot of hope, a lot of kind of that renewal, kind of a cautiously optimistic deep breath, just that feeling that it’s going to be okay, we’re going to get this, the numbers are improving, our efforts were successful, it’s a good outlook,” Stearn said.
She said it’s good to continue mitigation efforts such as mask-wearing, washing hands, and social distancing, but it’s also important to celebrate the victory of not having a single COVID patient in the hospital.
“We’ve learned that in COVID, to celebrate the little victories every day,” she said.