Kelli Marino

Kelli Marino

Kelli Marino, RN

5D Surgical ICU
Michigan Medicine - University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, Michigan
United States
That day our son walked to the window and we waved at each other! Kelli was able to find a way to motivate and get him moving!

Our son was transferred from our local hospital in Saginaw to The University of Michigan Medical Center. Our son, a healthy 27-year-old contracted the Coronavirus several days before being transferred to UM. Our son arrived on a ventilator and remained on a ventilator for 53 days. After he got off of the ventilator, he still remained hospitalized for another 32 days, making his hospital stay a total of 85 days. I can tell you that our son would not have made it without Kelli! Of course, we are thankful to the entire staff at UM, as many played a part in saving our son's life, and we are forever grateful to all the staff, but Nurse Kelli went above and beyond!

Our son had many wonderful nurses during his stay in the hospital, so we communicated with many nurses on a regular basis. My husband, my daughter, and I took turns calling the hospital daily for updates. Our daughter was the first to meet (over the phone) Nurse Kelli. Our daughter said that Kelli was so kind and considerate, and she wished that he could have Kelli as his nurse every day!

Due to Covid-19, there was a "no visitor" policy in place. Not being able to visit our loved one was gut-wrenching! We shared with Kelli that we often park in a parking lot close to the hospital and pray for our son. Kelli took it upon herself after she got out of work, to take a picture of his window from the parking lot and send it to us. After a long day of work, this nurse went above and beyond to do this for us, so we would know where our son's room was.

When our son started to fully come down from his sedation, he woke up with extreme anxiety and Kelli was right there with him. When his anxiety got really bad, Kelli would face-time with us as she felt this would help him calm down, and it most certainly did help. At times when he was upset, I would see Kelli stroke his forehead to comfort him. These were things that I as his mother, could not do, and I was so glad that Kelli was there for my son.

As time went on, his anxiety became worse. Kelli recommended several services for him, such as a Social Worker, a Therapist, etc. Kelli advocated for these services, as she was concerned about his well-being. Kelli even asked us if there were any friends that our son could talk to that may help with his anxiety, and we gave her the name of two of his friends and provided her with their numbers. She was sure to put our son in contact with them. At one point he stopped eating because he was extremely nauseous. He had lost 60 pounds while he was in the hospital, so we were all concerned about his nutrition. No hospital food or drinks appealed to his appetite, so Kelli took it upon herself to help. On her day off she went to the store and purchased protein drinks for him to try, and the drinks were a hit! Again, Kelli went above and beyond!

Eventually, he was able to do some Physical Therapy in his room. There were days that he had no motivation at all, but Kelli would give a pep talk and remind him of what he needed to do to get home. She always encouraged and praised our son's efforts. One day Kelli called and asked if we planned to come to the hospital that day, and I told Kelli that I planned on going to the parking lot to pray. Kelli explained that our son was feeling down that day and he didn't really want to get out of bed. Kelli said she wanted to get him moving, so if I was going to be in the parking lot, she would have him walk to the window so we could wave at each other. That day our son walked to the window and we waved at each other! Kelli was able to find a way to motivate and get him moving!

Kelli was always sure to communicate with us throughout the day and at the end of her shift. I would always ask, "Are you our son's nurse tomorrow?" I often felt guilty asking her that question, as I knew she had her own family, and deserved time-off, as I'm sure working with COVID patients must've taken a toll on her as well. When we knew that Kelli was with him, my family and I were able to get some sleep. All of his friends and family quickly came to love Kelli. Although they had never met her before, they were deeply touched by the care she was giving to her patient and our family.

In closing, I would like to say that our son contracting the Coronavirus was the most terrifying experience of our lives. Words cannot express how heartbreaking it was not to be able to be at our son's side while he was fighting for his life. We had to put his life in the hands of strangers. I could not have picked a better person to step in for me. Kelli became his family when he needed someone the most! Kelli held his hand, comforted him, listened to his fears and worries, encouraged him, pushed him, motivated him, advocated for him, and so much more.

At the beginning of this email, I stated that my son would not have made it without Kelli, I said that because those are my son's words. I believe that every patient should be able to have a nurse like Kelli. We are forever grateful to Kelli and for everything she has done for our family. We will never be able to thank her enough, so when I heard about this award, I knew I had to nominate her. Kelli is the true definition of a Nurse Angel!