It was a tear-filled reunion for Paul Greenslade and the staff at Straub Medical Center. Today marked Greenslade’s first visit back to the medical center since April 2020, when he was among one of the first COVID-19 patients in Hawai‘i to be hospitalized, and one of the first to recover.
"I wanted to come back to say thank you personally, and I wanted to make sure the staff were OK because it's a dangerous job," Greenslade said.
Greenslade was admitted March 20, 2020, and spent 25 days at Straub – 12 of those in the intensive care unit. He was released April 17, the day after his 79th birthday. Straub marked the milestone recovery with a standing ovation from dozens of staff members who lined the halls as Greenslade was wheeled out and reunited with his wife, Karen.
After returning home, the United Kingdom resident sent a donation to Straub in honor of the nurses, physicians and support staff who had cared for him during that difficult time.
"We wanted to make a contribution for giving me a second chance at life," Greenslade said.
That gift helped purchase a new bench for the medical center's Healing Garden, a landscaped open-air space located next to the Cancer Center where patients, loved ones and staff can go for a moment of tranquility or reflection.
When the couple arrived back in the islands in February 2022 after almost two years away, their first call was to Straub Medical Center.
"Paul kept in touch over the last several years. He's written letters, thinking of other stories he wanted to share and staff he wanted to thank," said Straub Chief Operating Officer Travis Clegg.
Today, the Greenslades returned for the unveiling of the bench and a plaque commemorating Paul’s "second life." But the highlight was reuniting with the Straub team members who made a lasting impact on his life.
"Absolutely amazing, wonderful people. Brilliant, brilliant hospital," Greenslade said. "I was lucky because [if I had been in the U.K.] I wouldn't have had the attention, and I don't believe I'd have made it. What a difference."
"You think back to 2020 and how scared we all were, how scared he and his family were. For him to actually be able to return in person, be healthy, walking and able to thank staff himself was really, really meaningful for a lot of people," Clegg said.