Robin Henry

Robin Henry of New Castle, stood up for the first time on her own last week at Wilmington Hospital--to the sound of cheers--for what may have been one of the most monumental moments of her life: she defeated COVID-19.

"I feel wonderful, I do, I feel wonderful."

The 63-year-old was the first person to contract COVID-19 at the state-run Governor Bacon Health Center in Delaware City, which saw an outbreak shortly after she became ill. Residents have since been moved to the Delaware Hospital for the Chronically Ill in Smyrna so that Governor Bacon could be used as a hospital overflow space; it was never needed.

Henry remembers back to March 27, 2020, when she didn't feel so wonderful.

"I have not ever felt this way in my life; I ain't going to lie I was a little scared because I was so hot that it felt like I was getting burned," she said.

"She was slumped over; she couldn't hardly walk, she was just drained," said Blane Henry, her husband.

Robin Henry thought she was dying and remembers not being able to breathe on the way to Christiana Hospital.

"I mean I was out the window; I was trying to get out the door because I needed some air."

When she arrived, she said hospital staff knew she had COVID-19 before she even took the test. She begged her husband to call Governor Bacon to let them know of her status, knowing how contagious the virus is and how it can impact the facility's elderly, vulnerable residents. The state didn't release information to the public about the staffer (Henry) who fell ill until April 2.

Henry doesn't remember much else, but what made her battle even harder was that she had to fight it alone. Her husband of six years couldn't be by her side.

"It was terrifying, the first month--not knowing--not even being able to see your wife or your loved one...when you have to rely on a phone call when your loved one is in the hospital, and you don't know if today or tomorrow it's going to be bad news or good news that's the really hard part about this whole deal," he recalled. 

Blane had to quarantine for 14 days after his wife tested positive for the novel virus; despite how sick she was, he never suffered any symptoms of the virus; he wasn't tested for the virus, though at the time, there wasn't much information about potentially asymptomatic persons carrying the virus.

"You've got to let at least somebody in because workers are coming in and out," he said. "I told them even if you want me to wear a spacesuit, a helmet, just let me see my wife--not stay there all day--just let me see her that's all, but they wouldn't do that."

Henry was on a ventilator at Christiana Hospital for at least a week; she had feeding tubes and even needed dialysis for a kidney infection. All in all, she was hospitalized and in rehab for nearly two months. 

"It was miserable...because you're looking at the four walls; you can't get out, 24/7 you're in that room--you can't get out," she said.

She spoke highly of Wilmington Hospital's rehabilitation program, whose staff re-taught her all of the things we do each day that we take for granted.

"How to walk; I couldn't walk [or] breathe," she said.

They also encouraged her and held a victory dance party for Henry on her way out.

"They said -- 'you don't even look like the same woman that came in here...my therapist said, 'I remember when you couldn't even walk."

From there, Henry headed home, where she's been for more than a week now. She's fully recovered and can't wait to get back to work. She's hoping her illness won't impact her perfect attendance record at Governor Bacon, where she's worked for eight years.

"A couple people I know, they died, so I know the Lord left me here to do more work for him because I'm a people person, and I love people, and I love my job because I like helping people down at Governor Bacon," she said. "I know they miss me, the residents."

Her message to others suffering from the respiratory illness--get tested.

"Cause that's the best thing you can do if you want to live."

And stay strong.

"You've got to fight. You can't give up. You have to be a fighter."

Here's another video from Robin's victory party: