“I started taking precautions against the novel coronavirus long before my friends and family,” said Jessica Gafeller. “As a nurse with a compromised immune system, I am very aware of how easily germs and bacteria can spread.”
Working in the hospital, Jessica has seen every phase of the virus. She knows first-hand it does not discriminate.
Jessica Gafeller’s symptoms began with body aches, a headache, and a low-grade fever. After one day of self-isolation, she tested positive for mycoplasma pneumonia. One day later, she also tested positive for COVID-19.
For over a week, Jessica locked herself in her basement, only communicating with her family by phone. Her children left meals at the top of the stairs to avoid any contact.
Spending your days in isolation takes a toll on your mental health. “I was alone with my thoughts and the negativity that fear often brings,” recalled Jessica. “I wrote goodbye letters to my husband and both of my children as I prepared for the worst.”
“Even when I began to feel better, I knew there was a real chance my symptoms could worsen the second week,” said Jessica. “I’ve battled Crohn’s disease for many years, so I’m not a stranger to pain and suffering, but this was unlike anything I've ever physically or mentally been through.”
During isolation, Jessica received multiple calls from her manager, her family physician, the UnityPoint Clinic physician that provided testing, and employee health. The State Health Department monitored her fever through daily check-ins and provided websites with valuable information. “Everyone supported me,” said Jessica. “I never felt alone.”
After isolating for the appropriate amount of time, Jessica received clearance to return to work. She ripped up the goodbye letters she wrote to her family and returned to her position as Administrative Supervisor of Patient Care at UnityPoint Health – Trinity. “While I was in isolation, I thought a lot about those who are dealing with this virus alone,” said Jessica. “I’m grateful for a career that allows me to help those patients and give them hope.”
Our healthcare heroes show up each day, in the face of fear, to provide compassionate care for every patient at UnityPoint Health hospitals, express cares, and clinics. As businesses begin to reopen and many community members return to work, our heroes will still be fighting COVID-19. Your support of the Trinity Healthcare Crisis Fund ensures our doctors, nurses, and healthcare professionals have the resources they need to continue the fight as our community begins to rebuild.
Honor a hero with a gift today. Because even while fighting their own battle, isolated in a basement, our heroes continue to think about YOU.