March 9, 2020—it was Monday when Cami Neidigh received a call from the Washington State Hospital where Geneva Wood, her 90-year-old mother, was admitted while recovering from COVID-19. Wood refused the use of a ventilator. The phone call told her that her mom has a high chance of dying within 24 hours.
Cami and her family rushed to the hospital and visited Wood. They went inside the room where she was quarantined. Everyone was wearing protective equipment—the family came to bid their ailing grandmother goodbye. Hugging her was not allowed.
“That 24-hour decline was serious,” Neidigh recalled. “She was reaching out and crying for us, wanting us to come into the room. She said it was her time to go. We went into the room; she was saying her goodbyes. We were holding her hand…”
Wood has five children. She was just recovering from a stroke at Life Care Center in a nursing facility in Washington state, which became the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic. Current data reports 35 residents of the facility have died from contracting the virus.
Families near the epicenter are still grieving from the deaths of their loved ones while others remain vigilant against community transmission.
After Wood’s release from the facility, she broke her hip. In her time at the hospital, she was diagnosed with COVID-19.
“She was crying out and trying to reach out to us through the window,” Neigdigh narrated. “At that time, we were one of the lucky families who could suit up and go in one-by-one and hold her hand, but not hug her, and she could talk to us.”
Wood eventually went to total isolation. In the local hospital where she was confined, there was a small waiting room the size of a closet. Patients are only allowed one visitor per patient.
“We felt that she knew that someone was in the waiting room, so we stayed there all day,” Neidigh said in an interview with GMA.
Wood’s family exerted their 100% in making their grandmother feel she’s not going through her sickness alone. Neidigh and her siblings would bring homemade potato soup, which the hospital kept in the refrigerator.
Whenever Wood feels like having potato soup, the nurse would tell Cami and her siblings about their mom’s request. They would leave the warm soup in front of Wood’s hospital room.
The family’s homemade potato soup is Wood’s comfort food. “Anytime she gets sick, what she survives on is her potato soup. It has protein and everything she wants, and it doesn’t upset her stomach and calms her down.” Neidigh revealed.
“She had gone about a week without eating, and once we were able to get her some soup and once she was able to see us through the window, she really rallied.”
Just last week, Neidigh and her siblings received thrilling news—their mom has finally beaten COVID-19.
The hospital called and told the whole family they can pop a visit. They can now hug their mom. “She gave me the longest, hardest hug that I’ve ever had in my life,” Neidigh said. Wood reuniting with her family was filled with emotions.
Due to Wood’s history with COVID-19, she couldn’t come back to her previous nursing facility. Neidigh and her siblings accompany their victorious mother on the road towards full recovery.
Everyone, especially Cami, was filled with pure joy. Their grandma is still yet to be back at her 100%. However, the family being able to touch and hug Wood is more than they could have asked.
“She understands what she’s been through. She said she fought hard for her family, and God has given her strength for the fight,” Neidigh said.
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the elderly is the most vulnerable–whether they live in the epicenter or not. Stories like Geneva Wood is a beacon of hope. Her journey emphasizes the importance of strength, faith, family. And of course, a healthy diet!
Witness Cami and her mom’s emotional journey by watching the video below: