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    The Robert G. Fenley Writing Awards: News Releases - Bronze

    Joe, Helen and an Angel Named Amy – A COVID-19 Survival Story
    Joe, Helen and an Angel Named Amy – A COVID-19 Survival Story

    “Joe, Helen and an Angel Named Amy – A COVID-19 Survival Story” by Michelle Brubaker
    University of California, San Diego School of Medicine

    In the midst of extremely challenging times, we wanted to share a COVID-19 survival story and a unique program at UC San Diego Health that provides assistance, encouragement and hope to patients.

    Joe and Helen Davis were both in their 70’s with underlying health conditions when diagnosed with COVID-19 in March. The voice at the other end of the phone line that gave them their test results was Amy Markley, a senior vocational nurse at UC San Diego Health with the Ambulatory COVID-19 Results Team, dedicated to facilitating tests and results to patients, employees and first responders. It was from that initial phone call that a friendship between Markley and the Davis’ started and Joe’s life was saved.

    During one of her daily phone calls to the couple to check in, Markley noticed Joe did not sound well. An ambulance was called, and the elderly gentleman was soon intubated at UC San Diego Health. The daily calls continued as Markley made sure Helen was kept informed.

    After 17 days in the hospital, Joe was discharged on Good Friday. “It was a good Friday indeed,” he said. The couple considers Markley their angel.

    “After a week of being intubated, Joe was taken off the ventilator.

    I was very groggy and my throat hurt from the tube. The medical team brought me out of my haze slowly and safely. My voice was a whisper, but I was so unbelievably grateful. It was then...”

    Michelle Brubaker
    Michelle Brubaker

    What was the most impactful part of your award-winning entry?
    The most impactful part about this article was getting to hear from a COVID19 survivor. With so much devastating news surrounding the pandemic, it was an honor to recognize a survivor, as well as the incredible medical team.

    What is one thing you learned from this experience?
    I learned how deeply the power of love, support, science and a devoted medical team touches lives. This story shows how one person with an immense amount of compassion can make a profound difference during such an uncertain time.

    What challenge did you overcome?
    During this point in the pandemic, information was changing rapidly with many unknowns. We were hearing the death toll in the headlines and on social media. We wanted to share a survivor story with sensitivity while providing transparency and hope.

    What was the biggest challenge in writing about this topic?
    This story reflects one of the most challenging times in a couple’s life. The details needed to be conveyed with the highest level of respect. I wrote it as a tribute to Helen and Joe and our tireless medical team.


    Michelle Brubaker, mmbrubaker@health.ucsd.edu