Pharmacy Strong: Pharmacy Team Supports Their Own During her Battle with COVID-19
October 18 – 24 is National Pharmacy Week. Throughout the week, CompleteRx celebrates frontline teams and individuals who go above and beyond in a series of blog posts.
The Pharmacy department at Opelousas General Hospital (OGH) is not just an experienced, efficient team of pharmacy experts, they are a close-knit family unit. “We care about each other and take care of our own,” explained Pharmacy Manager, Cynthia Balfa, RPh. So, when one of their own was diagnosed and admitted with COVID-19, the realities of the pandemic hit harder than ever.
Kathy Fuselier, CPHT, LPN, Pharmacy Technician at OGH, woke up Monday, April 6, 2020 with a dry cough and a lost appetite. “I just didn’t feel like myself when I woke up that morning. I felt weak and out of breath,” Fuselier said.
Kathy has been a member of the Pharmacy Team at OGH for over 30 years and had been fully versed in the signs and symptoms of the looming coronavirus (COVID-19). She kept a close watch on her breathing and O2 volumes throughout Tuesday and decided to be tested the following day. On Thursday she was told she had tested positive for COVID-19.
Kathy would later be hospitalized for 15 days at OGH, nine of which were spent in the ICU. During this time, Kathy was unable to physically see or be with her family, friends or pharmacy team.
“We were worried about her. The doctor would Facetime our team so we could talk to her and show her our support, but it felt like something was missing without her,” Balfa said.
The support of her family and pharmacy team is something that Kathy believes helped her get through those 15 days. “I can’t explain it. But there is a sense of belonging when the people you work with are there for you and behind you during a time like that,” Kathy said.
Though Kathy herself wouldn’t admit it, Cynthia explains that throughout her 15+ day battle with COVID-19, Kathy’s main concern was her family and the work and team she had left behind in the pharmacy. “Each time we were able to connect, she would ask about the team and how they were doing without her,” details Balfa, “Kathy is a very giving and self-less person, it’s just her nature.”
Kathy’s supporters lined the halls and cheered her on with signs and balloons the day she was discharged, and her team was waiting to escort her home with a handmade sign that read, “Faith not fear. Kathy is coming home!”
“I was so shocked and emotional to see all those people. It made me realize I don’t ever want to be locked away from my family or friends ever again,” she said.
Since her return, Kathy and the pharmacy team at OGH have picked right back up where they left off. “I am happy to be back. I love my job and the team I get to work with. We’ve been through a lot together over my time,” Kathy said.