Memorial COVID Survivor Delivers Meals to Say Thank You

Kevin Anderson spent 40 days in the Belleville Memorial COVID ICU in Spring of 2020. He was on a ventilator for 19 days and in a medically induced coma for 21 days. Nearly three years later, Anderson still wants to show appreciation for the hospital he says saved his life.

“I felt the hospital staff deserved to be recognized in the community for how they helped shape our lives,” Anderson said. “They don’t always get the opportunity to go to restaurants on lunch breaks. I wanted to bring it to them. They deserve it.”

Anderson approached community restaurants to assist with his mission and was able to provide 275 meals and sandwiches to nursing units, the cardiac cath lab, respiratory care, surgical service areas and some ancillary departments at the Belleville campus. Along with the meals, they also provided donuts, bagels, muffins, danishes and cookies.

Participating restaurants included Red Lobster, Raising Canes, Chili’s, Arby’s, Krispy Kreme, Dunkin’ Donuts, St. Louis Bread Company, Hi Point, Big Mama BBQ, The Army Airforce Recruitment Center in Fairview Heights, The Ultimate Cleaning Catering Company, TGI Friday’s and Lotawata Creek.

Anderson said that when visiting restaurants, he would pitch the unnoticed heroism of Memorial employees.

“The hospital gives a lot of time to all walks of life,” he said. “The restaurants were all eager to help because everyone has a mother, father or family member who works in a hospital. They know the sacrifices that go along with their jobs.”

Barry Payne, assistant nurse manager in the ICU, said he helped care for Anderson during his 2020 hospitalization. He was able to help and spend time with him during meal deliveries.

“I enjoyed working with Kevin and listening to his story,” Payne said. “I was able to hear the details of his daily struggles with recovery, and it was very touching. I know this meal delivery was a very important thing for Kevin to do. I was happy to help in any way that I could to make it a reality.”

With meal delivery help from Chaplain Cari Frus and Chief Chaplain Doug Stewart, Anderson was able to visit each department while delivering meals as he showcased newspaper articles detailing his survival story. He said he feels blessed to have come through his COVID journey with his life, but his journey is not without side effects,

“I had surgery on my right hand, lung damage and nightmares from not sleeping and watching others die throughout the night,” he said.

Despite still navigating emotional and physical healing, Anderson said he wants to bless those who helped him survive.

“God has blessed me, so I want to bless the healthcare workers at Memorial for their support,” he said. “The heroes there saved my life. For me to return to my family…others didn’t make it home…Memorial saved my life.”