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Spectrum Health ICU nurse shares story after battle with COVID

Posted at 6:32 AM, Dec 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-21 06:42:36-05

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — An ICU nurse with Spectrum Health is sharing her story of survival to those jaded from this pandemic.

Melissa Jones became a registered nurse after watching her brother die in the emergency room from a motorcycle accident. She’s since made it her life’s work to help families through life’s toughest moments but says the pandemic has been an unimaginable burden.

“I really feel like we have pulled together well through the pandemic but we are tired and burnt out,” Jones said. “It’s hard putting forth all this effort and watching these patients come in, and they're so sick for such a long time, and families having to make these really difficult decisions.”

For most front-line workers, Jones says the job is rewarding but seemingly impossible while fighting the unseen enemy. Her heart goes out to the nurses on separate floors dedicated to an entirely different practice, now forced into the world of critical care during a global pandemic.

“They’ve all stepped up and it’s been great to be able to mentor and help them in this very stressful situation.

“They have really stepped up and it’s been good for us too, because we were able to mentor and help them,” said Jones. “It’s really brought a lot of our floors and units together.”

However, fighting on the front-line doesn’t come without inherent dangers. Jones was diagnosed with Covid-19 on August 15th. After months of helping patients fight for their lives, Melissa Jones, a 43-year-old mother of two caught the virus.

“When they told me I had Covid-19, I said, ‘I’ve done everything I was supposed to. I wore all the PPE at work, I wore masks outside, we had been social distancing, not doing anything. Like how's that possible?’” Jones said.

A friend of Jones brought her to the emergency room in Zeeland where the positive results came back in 20 minutes. With a high temperature, and excruciating pain and body aches, Jones was now a patient at the same hospital she’s been fighting the virus.

“I would lay there and think ‘I’m gonna end up like one of those people getting intubated,’” said Melissa. “And I had that conversation with my husband before I went to the emergency room, I said, ‘if things don't go well, you need to make the tough decisions.’”

With the help from her team, Melissa was able to make a full recovery in six weeks. Today, residual symptoms and side-effects are a painful reminder of her fight, now sharing her message to awaken those who’ve turned a deaf ear to the pandemic.

"And I have family members that are firm believers that Covid-19 is not that big of a deal,” Jones said. They say, ‘what's the big deal?’” Jones said. “And sometimes I just want to say, ‘come to work with me for four hours and you'll see what the big deal is.’”

After doing her own research, Jones has made the decision to sign-up for a vaccine. She’s now a mouthpiece for survivors, advocating pandemic restrictions while encouraging people to take all the proper precautions in an effort to protect the people we know and love.

“It’s not a political thing, it's not ‘right’ or ‘left.’” Jones said. “There should be no fighting and arguing. If you get the chickenpox vaccine. If you wear your seat belt every day and look both ways before you cross the road. Then we should put on our masks and practice social distancing.

Jones says despite her hardships, she’s thankful for going through her trials as she’s now able to walk alongside families through what she’s experienced firsthand.