Last Thursday (23 April) saw an emotional but heartwarming celebration on Coln Ward at Cirencester Hospital, as staff said to goodbye to Stephen Lefley, who was well enough to return home after receiving treatment for Covid-19.
They lined the corridors to cheer and clap as Stephen walked out of the hospital, delighted to be heading home to his wife, Tina, and family in Cheltenham. He is the first patient receiving treatment for the virus at the hospital to have been discharged home.
The fifty-one-year-old father of two recalled his time at Cirencester Hospital, saying: “The staff on Coln Ward did a remarkable job of looking after me. They’re all so committed and work so hard. They are incredibly well structured and efficient – they just get on with the job in hand, yet remain really cheerful and upbeat while doing it.
“They made my stay there as pleasurable as it possibly could be. I can’t thank them enough for all they have done to get me back on my feet and home with my wife and boys.”
Recalling how he first suspected he may have contracted Covid-19, he said: “The first indication was that I felt very tired and hot; I lacked energy and any motivation. When I was told I had tested positive for Coronavirus my heart sank. I hoped and prayed every night that I would wake up the next morning.
“I tried to keep my mind in the right place. I believe that if you think positive thoughts and keep your mind in the right place, the body follows. That, and the excellent care I received from all the staff at Cirencester Hospital, is what got me through this.
“During my time on Coln Ward I saw videos online and on the news of people leaving hospital who were going home after being treated for Coronavirus. Videos like that gave me the hope that I needed to get through this.”
Of his time in isolation, Stephen recalled: “It was pretty tough. I was unable to see family or friends, but managed to keep in touch through WhatsApp. I received so many messages of support and encouragement, which really helped get me through it. The staff on Coln Ward always found time to stop and have a chat with me, which really helped to keep my spirits up and my mind in a positive place.”
Stephen also remembered the little things that helped get him through. “Having been in hospital for so many weeks, my nails had become really long,” he said. “One of the nurses brought in a spare pair of nail clippers from home so I could cut them, because they were driving me mad. It was such a little thing, but it meant so much.”
Speaking of his delight to be home with his family, Stephen said: “Last Thursday I stood on my doorstep and clapped for the key workers at 8 o’clock. It’s a gesture that doesn’t come close to showing my utter appreciation for the nurses and doctors who got me through Covid.
“When I am able to, I look forward to going back to Cirencester Hospital to say thank you to them all in person. They really are a credit to the country.”