UT Health East Texas honors COVID-19 patients with lantern display on one-year anniversary

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TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - It’s a set of numbers that have stuck with UT Health East Texas this past year.

365: the number of days that have passed since the hospital received its first COVID-19 positive patient.

“We were moving fast trying to make decisions figuring out how to take care of the patients, where we could take care of the patients, how we could keep other patients and our staff safe,” said Tom Cummins who is the UT Health East Texas Division Chief Medical Officer.

3654 and 553 both important numbers as well. Those are the numbers of patients who have entered the hospital with COVID-19, and the numbers of patients who have died from the virus, respectively. Now, those numbers are on full display in the form of lanterns on the hospital’s bridge, each one honoring someone who either fought and survived the virus, or died from the virus at the hospital.

“When you put them all up at once and walk the hallway and see how many lives were touched by this disease, it can be emotional, you get sad to see those who have lost their lives but we also remember that we celebrated being able to discharge so many patients,” said Jessica Cox who is the UT Health East Texas Director of Quality and Patient Safety.

Roy Anderson was one of those patients. He came to the hospital three days after the first reported case at UT Health East Texas. He was put in a medically-induced coma and transported to UT Health East Texas. Three months later he was released from the hospital.

“Families are so important; to be able to go out and do things with family, to do things with the kids, it was so hard especially in the hospital when no one could come see me it was lonely when you are at home isolated that is very lonely,” said Anderson.

As thousands pass the bridge on Beckham Ave, they will be reminded of the thousands who have been and who are still impacted by this virus.

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