Six months into the COVID-19 pandemic, Nash UNC Health Care is celebrating “Care for the Caregiver” throughout the month of September, honoring its staff for their tireless efforts and reflecting on the stories of patients who overcame difficult battles with the virus.

Back in the beginning of June, a 38-year-old Nash County mother, Adrienne Burns, was discharged from Nash UNC Health Care after spending 43 days in the hospital while receiving treatment for COVID-19.

Burns came to the emergency department at the recommendation of her doctor, where she was diagnosed with COVID-19 and placed on a ventilator in the critical care unit of the hospital.

Reflecting back on her time there, she recalled how hard it was to remain positive.

“The first two weeks is still a blur. I don’t remember any of it,” she said. “It was lonely, but with the help of my family, my support system, prayer and faith, I was able to get through it.”

Once Burns was able to get off the ventilator, she was moved to the second floor of Nash General Hospital, the designated COVID-19 unit for medically stable patients. Because of the length of time Burns was on a ventilator, she required extensive physical therapy at the Bryant T. Aldridge Rehab Center, an inpatient rehabilitation facility within the Nash UNC system, to rebuild her strength and ability to walk.

Burns recalled how supportive the rehab center staff was.

“I love the rehab staff and wish I could go back and see them,” Burns said. “When I left, it was a bittersweet moment. I was glad to have survived and be able to go home, but I had bonded with some of the staff there and developed some really good friendships. They were like family.”

Burns was at the rehab center for eight days and said she was impressed with the way the staff members went out of their way to support her.

“I love the atmosphere and the environment. At BTAR, you know they cared and they wanted you to succeed,” she said. “Miss Brandy, she made me laugh and she just made sure that I was on top of my stuff and held me accountable for getting better and doing whatever I needed to do to get out of the hospital. Jordan is amazing; she did my therapy and she cracked me up when she tried to do the wobble.”

Upon her discharge, Burns requested to celebrate by doing the wobble, a popular dance that came about in 2008, and said that it was a moment she will never forget. Various staff members who had cared for Burns throughout her stay gathered to do the wobble with her as she left the facility to go home.

“It made me feel really appreciated, it made me feel good,” she said.

Since being discharged from the hospital, Burns said she still is recovering but is feeling back to normal.

“I am doing really good; my recovery is really good. I still have a raspy and hoarse voice from the ventilator tubes and I am still being seen for that, but I am back at work,” she said. “I haven’t missed a beat really. Everybody’s asking me, ‘How you doing, how you feeling, are you OK?’ And I’m looking at them like I’m fine, I’m back to my old self.”

Just a few weeks ago, Burns said she was able to enjoy a family vacation.

“I went on vacation to Florida and it was so needed,” Burns said. “I was able to relax, rest and be refreshed and just enjoy the warm weather. We had a good time — it’s just so good to be with family, and it meant a lot.”

Though Burns has won her battle with COVID-19, she had a message for the health care workers still on the front lines during the pandemic.

“Just keep doing what you are doing; we need you guys,” she said. “Do your job and do your job well, because you are what makes the difference.”