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No COVID-19 Patients At St. Mark’s Hospital For First Time In 431 Days

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – New cases of COVID-19 continued to decline Tuesday as Americans continued to get vaccinated. For the first time in more than 14 months — 431 days to be exact — St. Mark’s Hospital did not treat any patients with COVID-19 on Monday.

They know the pandemic is not over, but it’s not as frightening for them as it was during the peak.

“It was a day that we never thought was going to come,” said Meghan Murri, nurse manager in the intensive care unit at St. Mark’s Hospital.

“To see yesterday (Monday) that we actually went down to zero for the first time in over a year: it was a pretty good feeling. It felt nice to know that we could just breathe for a second,” said Jennifer Jellerson, critical care director at St. Mark’s Hospital.

Statewide, there were still 136 people hospitalized with COVID-19 but hospitalizations are down from a peak of more than 600 in December.

ICU doctors and nurses we spoke with said treating COVID-19 was unlike anything they’ve ever done.

“There were a lot of dark times,” said Jellerson.

For several months, multiple people died every shift, she said.

“And that wears on you. In critical care, people pass away, but not every day and not like they do with COVID,” Jellerson said.

They are proud of the way they worked as a team to support each other emotionally and deliver quality care.

“I 100% felt that way all through the pandemic. I was in the right time and place in order to help these people,” said Murri.

Dr. Jared Johnstun leads the team in intensive care and said they were overwhelmed for several months in a row. The surge at the hospital started in November, and did not taper off until February, he said.

“We had entire wings of our hospital filled up with COVID,” said Johnstun.

When a patient went on a ventilator, he was the doctor who intubated them. He was also, too often, the last person the patients spoke with before they died.

“We would gain a relationship with someone because it took weeks for them to die, and we would watch them dwindle and ultimately watch them die and day after day after day after day,” Johnstun said.

Now, he feels as though the hospital is recovering.

“We’ve turned a corner in that COVID is now just another thing we take care of and that we’re learning about. But yeah, it’s under much better control,” Johnstun said.

They expect that they will have to treat more COVID-19 patients in the weeks ahead, but they now know they can handle the toughest times.

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