CORAL SPRINGS, FL – In the final moments of his wife’s life, Galal Eljabaly was able to hold her hand and pray with his family in the intensive care unit at Broward Health Coral Springs.
It was late November, deep into the Covid-19 crisis, when his wife, Kholoud Suleiman, 54, was admitted to the hospital as she was losing her battle to cancer.
As her condition worsened, one of the hospital’s ICU nurses, Sindu Joy, led Eljabaly and three other family members to his wife’s bed for the final goodbyes.
“It was so emotional. I gave him the support as if he was part of my own family,” Joy said.
Months later, Eljabaly wrote a letter to the hospital’s CEO Jared Smith telling him how grateful he was for Joy’s care and compassion during that painful time.
“She was really special,” Eljabaly said.
But the letter wasn’t the final say of his appreciation.
Eljabaly and Joy met again earlier this month, this time in the hospital’s main lobby so that Eljabaly could publicly thank her and the rest of the ICU team in front of their colleagues.
For him, Joy and the other nurses, physicians, and staff became his extended family, comforting him during his wife’s stay at the hospital until her death on Nov. 24.
The Coral Springs resident had lost his first wife to a similar cancer and knows how hard hospital nurses work. That’s why he wanted to honor Joy.
Speaking in a soft voice, sometimes breaking in emotion, Eljabaly, a former nurse, said the unit’s nurses have a tough job requiring a balance between their duties and emotions. The job has been made harder during the challenges of the pandemic, he added.
“You have to have a delicate connection,” he said.
Smith, who also attended the Feb. 10 event, said Eljabaly’s letter “touched his heart.”
Looking around the lobby filled with the hospital’s nurses and other staff, he said: “I see in everybody’s eyes the love they have for their patients.”
Smith then turned to Eljabaly.
“You have a larger family now. Just know you are part of our family,” he said.
Joy, who has worked as a nurse at the hospital since 2009, didn’t say much during the event.
She later said she was humbled for the honor, but the support she gave to Eljabaly and his family is a part of her job.
“We give everything we can to families. I think that really helps them,” she said.
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