Healthcare Heroes: Caroline DeBernardi

Caroline DeBernardi is living proof that you don’t need to be a doctor or a nurse to help patients who are ill with the coronavirus. As a service associate in the Department of Environmental Services at Addison Gilbert Hospital, she talks to patients as she cleans their rooms. She sees firsthand the loneliness that many of them are feeling because the COVID-19 pandemic has forced hospitals to ban most visitors. 

A particularly long, gloomy stretch of rainy weather inspired Caroline to do something to help these patients. She made a detour at a flower shop before her shift one morning. When Caroline walked into Steele 1, the acute care unit she works in every day, the rest of the staff was surprised to see her carrying 12 roses.

She went room to room, giving a rose to each patient. “I had to do it,” Caroline explained. “I think it meant a lot to them. It gave them a little bit of hope.”

One woman’s reaction was memorable: “Oh, my favorite flower. And it’s pink!”

“She had been here for a few days and she had a smile from ear-to-ear,” Caroline said.

The kind gesture didn’t surprise Caroline’s boss, Stephen O’Brien, general manager of Environmental Services. “Caroline is a dedicated rock star,” he said. “She’s great.”