Brady Scott, a respiratory therapist at Rush University Medical Center, says 2020 was challenging, emotional and heartbreaking.
Scott, who received a COVID-19 vaccine on Christmas Eve, been treating COVID-19 patients since March and teaching future respiratory therapists.
“We’re all going through this,” Scott said. “This is tough on everybody so let’s make the best out of it as we can and just realize we are in a pandemic. It’s not over—too many people are dying still every day.”
With the approval of two vaccines, many health care workers believe there's light at the end of the tunnel.
"We’re getting close, we just have to hang in there,” said Eric McIntosh, a nurse practitioner at Rush University Medical Center.
McIntosh said he won’t be spending Christmas with his elderly parents.
“I’m not going home this Christmas so I can see them next Christmas,” said McIntosh.
Dr. Christopher Udovich of Silver Cross Hospital in New Lenox will spend Christmas Day at the hospital treating patients.
“I have two patients in there that have COVID right now,” he said. “They can’t be at home with their families, so it really puts in perspective for me that I’m able to see my immediate family—they’re healthy but there are those out here who aren’t.”
Tanya Antal, a nurse at Rush Copley Medical Center in Aurora, worked a 12-hour shift on Christmas Eve.
“It’s been a rough day,” she said Thursday. “I cried with families today on phones that can not visit their loved ones here at the hospital.”
Antal is doing her best and trying to be strong for her patients, letting them know they are not alone during the holiday.
“When I look at the whole situation I’m thankful and I’m grateful that my family is healthy, but I’m also thankful to be able to be that person at the bedside helping thee patients kinda get through their hardest times,” she said.
Antal hopes to end this year on a positive note by getting vaccinated and doing her part to stop the spread of the virus that killed more than 15,000 people in Illinois.
“I know a lot of peers feel the same," she said. "This availability of the vaccine is kinda the beginning of the end hopefully."
The pandemic has taught Antal and other health care workers many valuable life lessons this past year.
“You learn what is important in your life,” she said. “You learn to appreciate what you have so much more when you look at the people and the patients and what they’re going through... So thankful...everyday that I wake up in a home with my family it’s a gift.”