One year later, stories of AdventHealth’s first COVID-19 patients highlight compassion in medicine

ORLANDO, Fla., March 11, 2021 – A year ago, one of AdventHealth Orlando’s first COVID-19 patients was a man who fought for his life from a hospital bed where isolation from his wife of 48 years was beginning to take as much of a toll on his health as the virus.

As the man gained strength and no longer tested positive for the virus, AdventHealth’s nursing team arranged for him to safely see his wife through a glass wall for the first time in weeks in the early days of the pandemic when so much was still unknown about the brutal disease. The couple pressed their hands against the glass, among the first such hospital reunions that would have to suffice until a real hug was possible.

“In that moment, there was no COVID, no death, no hopelessness or despair …. Just two people holding on to hope and longing,” said Linnette Johnson, a chief nursing officer for AdventHealth’s Central Florida Division, at today’s AdventHealth Morning Briefing. “Every patient in our beds is someone’s everything. So we fight. We fight for them. It’s an affirmation of the sacrifice of what we do and why we do it.”

AdventHealth Morning Briefing 3.11.21

On the one year anniversary of the World Health Organization’s declaration of a global pandemic, Johnson and AdventHealth Central Florida CEO Randy Haffner reflected on the changes brought on by the virus and how it emphasized the hospital system’s founding mission of caring for the whole person – body, mind and spirit.

“We are called to a mission to extend the healing ministry of Christ,” Haffner said. “We care for individuals like they are our own mother, father, sister, brother or child. And we do it from a space, not of anything artificial, but out of pure love.”

Haffner noted that the medical innovation during the pandemic is unprecedented and he expects many changes to become permanent. Telemedicine, for example, was used by about 3% of the AdventHealth’s patients before COVID-19. During height of quarantine that figure surged to more than 70% because of an easing of federal regulations. Haffner said he would like to continue to be able to provide convenience and better access to quality health care.

Johnson noted that the number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients in AdventHealth’s Central Florida system continued to decline this week. But she noted masks and social distancing must be continued.

Both Johnson and Haffner recommended people get the COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available to them.

You can sign up for alerts to learn when more appointments are available at . Vaccines are not currently available at any AdventHealth hospital, AdventHealth Centra Care or AdventHealth Medical Group office.