While it wasn’t the Thanksgiving she would have preferred, Gale Smay nonetheless came out of the holiday weekend with plenty of warm feelings about Alton Memorial Hospital.
Smay, 59, of Dow, Ill., tested positive for the COVID-19 virus in November. She is also compromised because she has multiple sclerosis. Smay made one trip to the Christian Hospital emergency room, was treated there and was able to go home for a few days while on oxygen. But her condition got a little worse, and she came to the Alton Memorial ER on the afternoon of Nov. 25 – the day before Thanksgiving.
“I came by ambulance because my oxygen was in the 70s,” Smay said. “Once I got here, they assured me that I would be there for a while. I had an X-ray and a CT scan, then I had to stay in the ER for several hours. But they were very good about helping find a bed for me. It was probably about 2:30 a.m. when I got to a regular room on the COVID floor (Intermediate Care Unit, second floor of the AMH Duncan Wing).
“Everyone was just awesome. There was no one who acted like there wasn’t enough time to help me. And I compare them to the Wizard of Oz, because it seemed like they were behind a curtain, then they came out and did something to help me.”
Smay’s condition gradually got better as the weekend went on, and she was finally allowed to go home on Monday, Nov. 30. But she returned to AMH on Dec. 10. Or at least her husband did. Mark Smay, who contracted COVID-19 first and is now recovered, has worked in the maintenance department at Christian Hospital for 29 years. On his way to work that day he stopped to deliver treats for the ER and IMU staffs. It was one box filled with individual bags of chips, one of individually wrapped cookies and one box of Granola bars, along with a note addressed to the doctors, nurses and support staff in the ER and IMU.
“I wanted to say thank you for all the hard work you are doing in treating and caring for your patients, like you have all the time in the world while we all know you don’t,” the note said. “When I was in over Thanksgiving, you got me back on my feet so I could go home to finish recovering, all while having (a full house) of patients. In the ER, where several of us spent the night due to no rooms available on the floor, nurses went and got us hospital beds so we did not have to say on the stretchers overnight. In this crazy time, you are the angels who keep things going.
“Thank you again for all your hard work and caring. I hope that in this craziness you can grab a snack on me. Happy Holidays!”
Gale Smay worked for 35 years at the Shell/Phillips 66 refinery in Wood River but went on disability earlier this year. She and Mark have three sons and seven grandchildren.
Above right: Gale Smay's note to the ER and IMU staffs at Alton Memorial Hospital.
Above right: Mark and Gale Smay