Woman sits outside hospital to be near husband battling COVID-19

NORWOOD, Mass. — Lisa Palermo got a call on Easter morning that her husband, Jim was being rushed to the hospital.

“He was diagnosed with double pneumonia and they did a COVID test,” said Palermo.

Jim tested positive for the virus. He has MS and diabetes and lives in a nursing home where Palermo visited him every day.

Now she sits with a lawn chair facing Jim’s ICU room in Norwood Hospital’s parking lot.

“They’ve had trouble regulating the oxygen level and his kidneys started failing,” said Palermo. “It’s so hard just not being able to be there with him and hold his hand and try to comfort him. It’s just, it’s so hard.”

She’s come to the same spot every day since Jim was admitted.

“It’s just that I’m as close as I can be to him. It’s the closest I can be, without being in there,” said Palermo

Lisa Palermo and Jim will celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary next month. But this is not the first time the couple has fought a life-threatening battle. In 2018, Jim nearly died from complications after urological surgery.

“I was there [in the hospital] every day, except for one because it snowed,” said Palermo.

Just last month, the couple celebrated one year free of hospital visits with Jim’s favorite meal, a steak dinner. They had no way of knowing what was to come.

“I never imagined anything like this could have happened, that I wouldn’t be able to be there with him when he needs me the most,” said Palermo.

The devoted wife says it’s their love that’s gotten the couple this far and she hopes that love will persevere once again.

“Love grows. You have some hard times. You survive through them. And now, I’m praying and everyone I know is praying with everything that they have, that he can beat these odds and survive,” said Palermo.

Palermo says among all of the fear and uncertainty is also loneliness. She hopes her story inspires others to come be near their loved ones so that the families can lean on each other, from a safe distance, for support.

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