COVID-19 nurse helps family say goodbye during 3-hour-long conference call

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Frank Rummo, married to his bride Elaine for nearly 56 years, a proud father of 3, and a Navy veteran was visiting his son Paul, and his family in Franklin, from Florida when the unimaginable happened. ​

“I came down with some symptoms and tested positive,” said Paul, “The next day my mom developed some symptoms and tested positive.”​

It was March and COVID-19 had just started to spread through Middle Tennessee. ​

“In the beginning of April, my dad started having some symptoms,” Paul explained.

On his 81st birthday, Frank was admitted to Vanderbilt’s ICU while his wife and son recovered. ​

“He deteriorated some more,” said Paul, “he had to be intubated.”​

Due to the highly infectious nature of the virus, Paul and his mother made the difficult decision not to go into the room. ​

“The one thing about my dad, he never met a stranger,” Paul recalled.

This comforted them as they watched from behind glass as these seemingly strangers lovingly cared for Frank.​ After battling for two weeks, Paul a doctor of Osteopathic Medicine at Vanderbilt could sense ​his father may not recover.

They arranged for the family, spread across the county, to join a conference call with a nurse who would hold an iPad.

“The nurse went in. It was Maddie​,” Paul remembered.

For nearly 3 hours, Maddie Hayes, dressed head-to-toe in her personal protective equipment, stood alone by Frank’s side stroking his head and hand as the family said goodbye.​

“It was emotional for everyone,” said Maddie.

“He would kind of respond to us talking to him,” said Paul, “He’d move his right arm a little bit at times.​”

Which brought tremendous solace to the Rummo’s.

“As my mom put it, she was my dad’s angel in the room.”

A beautiful comment, Maddie said, that validates the spiritual presence she felt in the room.​

“I feel like God is using me in those moments. Sorry to get emotional here,” she said while wiping tears, “I feel like I was Mr. Rummo’s way to move on to the next point of his journey.”

And, Frank’s family agrees.

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