Posted by Divya Sathyanarayanan

Abdominal discomfort woke Joel Peter Nass in the middle of the night on a Saturday. The discomfort continued, but Joel otherwise felt normal and went to work. By noon, the discomfort had turned into sharp pain and he went to the nearest urgent care. “Suspecting it to be appendicitis, they advised to go to the nearest hospital and HPMC was the closest one,” he says.

At 39 years old, Joel had never been to the hospital and his first visit ended up being at the peak of the COVID-19 surge. The hospital was not where he wanted to be, but “once I got there I really felt safe,” he says. Joel was relieved to see everyone—from admitting staff to nurses and doctors—wearing masks and following safety protocols. “They did a CT scan and confirmed the diagnosis. When I was admitted in the ED, I noticed there was plenty of space between patient beds. The care team sanitized their hands before examining me and after examining me—making me feel relaxed to see that they gave utmost importance to safety measures,” he remembers.

Joel had to undergo an appendectomy and was admitted to our Medical-Surgical unit. The first thing that Joel noticed was the compassionate and caring nature of the nurses. “Despite facing enormous pressure due to the pandemic, the nurses were very thoughtful, kind, and made me feel cared for,” he says.

The hospital stay was an opportunity for Joel to slow down and reflect on the positive things in life—even during an unpredictable year. “To be able to just walk into the ED and get this level of care and attention is amazing. Moreover, it was great to see the diverse care team comprising of staff from different races and ethnicities. Even though they had different backgrounds, they had one focus—to care for and protect the patients and all those who come for help,” he says.

Joel says his first hospital visit—of his lifetime—was a positive experience and it couldn’t have been better. “I am fortunate to receive this level care, so I could get back to my family.”
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