Southend nurse back on ward after beating coronavirus

A nurse who spent weeks fighting coronavirus has praised her colleagues at Southend who helped support her on her journey to recovery.

Michelle Palmer, 51, is the deputy ward manager for Rochford ward, the respiratory unit at Southend Hospital, which is currently treating Coviod-19 patients. Although she never expected to end up a patient at the hospital herself.

She said: “There were days, I was on my hands and knees as I honestly thought I wasn’t going to make it. I’ve never been that sick before in my life. Fortunately, I’ve recovered and I’m back at work helping patients who were in the same position as me.”

Michelle who also runs the pulmonary rehab service at Southend has a newfound respect for her respiratory patients after her experience of battling the virus.

“Having the virus myself, I feel I can relate to other Covid patients as I’ve been in the same situation. This has also been a real eye opener and given me a different outlook for my respiratory patients as they deal with similar symptoms in their day-to-day life.”

Michelle explained that individuals naturally assume she caught the virus at work. Her colleagues have described that they feel safer at work, as they know what they’re facing and dealing with and feel protected as they are treating patients wearing PPE.

It all started when Michelle felt unwell while at work at the end of March, and decided to self-isolate at home to protect colleagues and family members around her.

Beth, Michelle’s youngest daughter helped to drop off supplies and was shocked at her mum’s worsening condition. Beth called an ambulance and Michelle was taken to Southend Hospital, where she has worked for the past 21 years.

After a night in A&E, she was sent home with antibiotics to recover and fight off the virus, much to the relief of her three daughters.

Her first week back at work saw Michelle join the 8pm Clap for Carers, which had an even greater meaning.

She said: “Standing outside and joining the Clap for Carers on my first week back was very emotional for me. Being a Covid patient and a nurse, you experience both sides first hand, which really highlights the care you receive as a patient and give as a carer.

“I feel so lucky to have a great team who are so encouraging. I’m grateful for the support of my manager and colleagues who consistently checked on me to make sure I was okay. I want to say a big thank to the paramedics and A&E staff at my hospital who helped me on my road to recovery.”

Now, having made a full recovery, Michelle is looking forward to be able to see her family, including her new 10-week-old grandson, who she hasn’t been able to hold in two months.

Mick Ferris

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