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Richmond rehab workers praised 2 years after treating 1st COVID patient

Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association
Posted at 4:32 PM, Apr 29, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-29 17:39:20-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- A thank you tour rolled into Richmond to express appreciation for the job done by healthcare workers over the two-plus years of the coronavirus pandemic.

Employees of Encompass Health Richmond stepped outside Friday afternoon to receive thanks as the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association (VHHA) wrapped up its week-long, statewide tour thanking healthcare workers for what they did during the pandemic.

It's the tour's second go-round, and along with featuring gifts for the workers, a truck played a video made at the start of the pandemic.

"That video from the idea to production and release was, like, six days," VHHA Vice President of Communications Julian Walker said.

The visit fell on a timely anniversary for staffers at Encompass.

"We took our first COVID patient two years ago today and since that time have treated well over 400 patients," said Vivian White, the CEO of Encompass Health Rehabilitation Hospital of Richmond.

White said the rehab center had to pivot during the pandemic to help people with COVID who has been released from the hospital, but were still suffering longer-term effects from the virus.

"Their body's natural ability to function in terms of walking, breathing, eating, all of those things were heavily impacted and diminished," White explained.

That meant having to reteach people things like rebuilding strength, walking up stairs again or safely getting into a car.

"These are just very fundamental things that we all take for granted," White said.

The hospital's medical director said the entire staff has been amazing throughout the pandemic and has adapted, along with the virus, despite the pressures placed on them.

"To us, what drove us, what kept us coming every day to work, what kept us going was just seeing those patients get better," Dr. Todd Wichman said. "Seeing them improve. Seeing them go home."

White said that while the past two years have really shown the resilience of healthcare workers, she is hopeful for the future.

"May we never live through this again," White said.

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