A local Scarborough family was fighting back tears as 82-year-old Surujdai Sawh was wheeled out of Scarborough Health Network’s Centenary hospital on July 17.
Surujdai was discharged after spending more than two months battling COVID-19.
She was reunited with her family and was welcomed with a celebration at the doors of the hospital entrance alongside staff involved in her care.
“We really thought that would be it,” shared her son Terry Sawh of his reaction when he first heard his mother contracted COVID-19. “We knew the odds were against her, but to have her come out and be healthy under the care of the hospital is a godsend.”
Surujdai first showed signs of the virus in May, a week after Mother’s Day. She was immediately brought to the hospital and within a few days was placed in the ICU. She spent 21 days intubated on a ventilator.
The family says they do not know how she contracted the virus.
“The doctors were very direct and confident. They made it very clear – her age and secondary infections presented significant challenges. We were preparing for the worse. They were open and honest about the situation, but they also treated us as part of a caring family,” shared Terry.
As COVID-19 cases grew in Scarborough and across the country, strict rules and guidelines were placed on visitors and guests at the SHN hospitals. However, staff made accommodations to make it as comfortable as possible for Surujdai and her family.
“The accommodation was huge. They had a social worker who worked with us and allowed us to continue our prayers through video since nobody could be there,” said Hera Ramlakhan, wife of Terry. “We could see her every day. They made time for us and accommodated us to continue our traditions. We even sent in items and they placed it on her bedside.”
After two months of battling the virus, Surujdai’s health improved immensely and her family was informed that she was ready to be sent home.
“We thought it was a miracle. My mother spent twenty-one days on the ventilator and then had to overcome additional secondary infections. Despite those challenges, she was still able to recover and be mentally smart and alert with no cognitive loss,” shares Terry.
To celebrate her discharge, the hospital and Foundation organized a special goodbye walkthrough with the three units involved in her recovery.
The family organized a meal donation to provide lunch for every staff member in the three units at Centenary as a way to share their gratitude with the hospital and the frontline staff.
“We are forever grateful for the amazing incredible level of care that my mother received. Starting from the doctors to the nurses, the support workers to the rehab staff, and everyone in between,” said Terry. “This is just a way for us to show our appreciation for the exceptional care she received at the hospital.”
On the day of her discharge, Terry also surprised the staff with a donation of hand sanitizers and masks. He thanked the staff profusely for their incredible care after seeing his mother.
“We not only want to thank the staff, but we want to pray every day going forward for their own safety and protection. I don’t think they get the recognition and appreciation they deserve for the work that they do to always go beyond their call of duty.”
The family hopes that Surujdai’s story inspires others in the Scarborough community to give back to the hospital, especially in such an important time.
“By sharing this story, it should encourage the community to get more involved with the Foundation as it supports the hospital and helps staff to carry on their great work,” said Terry. “Scarborough is our home. Scarborough is our community. We will always continue to support any initiative that will make our community stronger and better.”