After a Month in the Hospital with COVID-19, a Patient Dances at His Discharge

Tom Berisha reunites with his family to the cheers of hospital staff.

After being treated for COVID-19, a recently discharged patient poses with his family.
After being treated for COVID-19, a recently discharged patient poses with his family.

In early April, Tom Berisha was admitted to NewYork-Presbyterian Allen Hospital with COVID-19. Over his 27-day stay, he met many healthcare workers, all of whom played an important part in his recovery. So when the 49-year-old was finally well enough to go home, his entire care team, along with other hospital staff, came out to celebrate.

“This was a special patient, because every day was a new plan of care, so many different members of the staff were involved,” says Cynthia Quezada, clinical nurse manager at NewYork-Presbyterian Allen Hospital.

The day of Berisha’s discharge, one of the nurses wheeled him toward the lobby. On the way, Berisha says, he noticed nurses dancing in the hallway and then they began to follow him. “I joked, ‘Where are you guys going? Everybody’s coming with me?’”

He was surprised and overwhelmed to arrive in the lobby to a team of healthcare workers cheering. He also didn’t expect to be greeted by his family. “All of the sudden, I see my wife,” Berisha says.

He was so happy that he told the nurse pushing his wheelchair that he was going to take part in the celebrating too. “When he came close, I said, ‘Let me get up and dance,’” he says with a laugh.

“To finally see him standing up, reuniting with his family, and going home to get better was overwhelming,” Quezada says. “We really appreciate the success stories through this pandemic. It is a light at the end of the tunnel for the patient and for the staff.”

“It was one of the most beautiful moments of my life. He is my husband of 23 years and my best friend,” says Flora Berisha. “We are so happy and grateful he is home.”

Berisha describes the kindness and encouragement of his care team, including the worker who brought him lunch. “He used to say, ‘Eat. I want to see you get up and get out of here,’” Berisha recalls. “On the day I was discharged, I told him, ‘Thank God for you, you gave me hope.’” Berisha also remembers a nurse who asked what his favorite music was, and after learning it was country, the nurse would sing him Carrie Underwood songs to keep his spirits up.

Berisha is feeling a little better each day at home in Riverdale, New York, saying he will never forget his discharge day: “I get to celebrate two birthdays now: my discharge day and my actual birthday. The staff didn’t give up on me. They did amazing work.”

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