'Scariest thing I've seen': NKY Woman Recounts Hospital Experience for Non-COVID-19 Emer
Fear swept over her. She looked through her windshield as she sat in her car in the hospital parking lot. Waiting for her phone to ring.
"It's the worst thing I ever experienced," said Kimberly Wright of Taylor Mill.
She'd watched as paramedics disappeared behind the glass emergency department doors of St. Elizabeth Hospital in Edgewood with her husband, who'd fallen ill with a non-COVID-19 emergency.
Visitors are restricted at hospitals during this novel coronavirus pandemic. It is for their protection, that of the patients and the health care workers. It is part of this current normal.
Wright knew that. But she was not prepared for what it meant.
"That ER parking lot was the scariest thing I’ve seen," she said a day later.
St. Elizabeth Hospital in Fort Thomas, Thursday, April 2, 2020. Every hospital in both Northern Kentucky and the Cincinnati region has procedures limiting access to visitors due to the new coronavirus pandemic.
From her car in that parking lot on Tuesday, she looked around and saw others sitting in their cars, waiting for a call as she waited for a doctor to call her. She wore an N95 mask and gloves.
"To say I was distraught is an understatement," Wright told friends through Facebook the next day. "I watched as ambulance after ambulance brought people in, and helicopters landing.
"I worry about him catching this virus now," she wrote, "and I just plain worry."
The call came, finally, and the ER doctor was reassuring. The nurses were, too. They gently encouraged her to go home.
She stayed four hours in the parking lot anyway, then put her car into drive, urging herself to heed the nurses' advice.
"It was so hard to leave and come home," Wright said.
"They are taking excellent care of him," she quickly added. "I get updates every couple hours."
But at night, she kept thinking about the parking lot. And, of course, about her husband.
"I'm trying to stay safe for him," she said.
Kimberly Wright, of Taylor Mill, hangs photos of people who died from overdose. Wright is an advocate for the treatment of people with opioid use disorder.
Wright is not new to crisis. She founded Kentucky Parents Against Heroin, a support and advocacy group for people with children with addiction. She has worked the front lines, demanding help from government leaders, volunteering to help others whose children have died and those whose kids are in active addiction. She has lived, too, through the fears of having a child with addiction, now safe in recovery.
She is a crusader for public health action to save lives.
And with all the confusion of the parking lot stay, Wright found herself in a familiar position again, drawn to warn others about the impact of a health crisis. This time, the crisis is COVID-19.
And she is imploring people, "Stay home."
"I’m begging people to stay home," Wright said, "so you never have to experience what I’ve been through the past 24 hours."