MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Mary Turner, an ICU nurse at North Memorial Hospital, gave a glimpse into what it’s like inside a Minnesota hospital.

“It’s very eerie, it’s very quiet, it’s very somber and it’s very scary,” Turner said.

Turner says North Memorial has a full floor of patients on ventilators, and many of them stay on the breathing machines for several weeks. She says one of the most difficult things for patients is not being able to see their family members, because they aren’t allowed.

“I don’t know how many calls I’ve had during the middle of the night, family begging to see their family members asking us ‘can you just please put the phone up to their ear so we can tell them we love them?’” Turner said.

She knows how much tougher COVID-19 is while facing it alone — without visitors or even virtual contact with loved ones.

“It was really hard not being able to be there,” said Amber McKenzie, whose husband Bryan recently returned home after spending days in the hospital battling COVID-19. “He was so sick that his words weren’t enough to let me know how he was doing.”

McKenzie says the quick FaceTime calls to Bryan carried the family through.

“It was everything it was absolutely everything,” she said. “I know how challenging it was to be there for so long and how being able to talk to us brightened his day.”

Linda Axelrod, with the Geller Foundation for Patient Safety, is giving other families the gift of communication.

“I thought maybe some of the local hospitals might want a few of them,” Axelrod said.

After hearing about patients who had no way of contacting their loved ones, the Geller Foundation purchased 75 tablets for local hospitals.

“It sounds like there really is a need for it here,”Axelrod said.

She hopes to donate more in the future.

“Anything we can do to make things a little bit easier for these patients and their families we would love to be able to do it,” Axelrod said.

So families like the McKenzie’s don’t have to fight through a COVID-19 diagnosis alone.

“Seeing someone is so much more than words,” McKenzie said.

If you’d like to help the Geller Foundation collect more tablets, click here. 

Erin Hassanzadeh

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