Former COVID-19 patient now volunteers in coronavirus hospital ward

International

(CNN) – Israel has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.

More than 100,000 people have contracted COVID-19, out of a population of just over nine million. More than 800 people have died.

Like hospitals all over the world, Hadassah Medical Center isolates its coronavirus patients. They’re not allowing visitors except in exceptional circumstances. Now, though, there’s one other group of people who are also allowed in.

Call them “coronavirus veterans.” People like tech company product manager, Shuki Rock, who’ve recovered from COVID-19, giving them what medical evidence increasingly suggests is at least a measure of immunity, for a short period of time.

Twice a week, he takes time out from his day to volunteer.

“We go into corona wards here, doing two main things. First of all, helping out with anything that is non-medical, getting a cup of coffee for those who can’t get out of bed because they’re too weak, or just taking away trays of food after lunch, things like that,” Rock said. “Second aspect is more moral, mental, emotional. You have people who come here for a week or two or more, and they’re alone.”

Rock says his own experience of the virus, when he and his wife were ill, compelled him to act.

“We were sick for about a month, five weeks. And we didn’t leave our house,” he said. “During that time, Passover, we got so much help from friends and family that left food on our doorstep, did shopping for us, and we understood the feeling of being assisted and helped… And when we saw this post on Facebook saying Hadassah started this project of having corona veterans going into the wards here, we both looked at each other and we said, ‘this is where we give back.'”

Simply being with the patients may seem like a small gesture, but it has a big impact.

“It was really a huge difference for the patients, so they don’t feel alone, someone can pray with them, someone can give them food, someone can help the nurses that they’re running around with a lot of patients in the department,” said Dr. Rely Alon with Hadassah Medical Center.

Rock, who has his blood tested each month to test for COVID-19 antibodies, now hopes other hospitals in Israel, and around the world, will follow Hadassah’s example.

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