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Greeley nurse writes letter to patients who have died from COVID-19

Katie Stencel wanted to honor the lives that have been lost to the virus.

GREELEY, Colo. — The doctors and nurses fighting to save patients at hospitals across Colorado have been called superheroes. The work they do to treat people infected with COVID-19 has saved countless lives. 

But they’re also human. 

A nurse who works in the intensive care unit at Banner Health North Colorado Medical Center in Greeley is honoring those who have died of the virus through a letter she wrote.

In the middle of times as difficult as these, words have the power to heal. The words that make up this letter were written by Katie Stencel.

"I’ve been an ICU nurse for several years now. I go into work and take care of the hardest patients and the heaviest workload that I’ve ever had," said Stencel. "I am so thankful that we’re called super heroes but I’ve never been able to truly get it because I don’t ever feel like a super hero. This is what we do every day."

For the past months she’s treated COVID-19 patients in the intensive care unit. She and her team have helped more than 200 patients at the hospital recover from the virus.

Stencel wrote this letter to remember the patients whose lives ended inside her hospital. She mourns their loss with every word and honors their memory through her writing.

"I would not want to be anywhere else in this whole world," said Stencel. "It’s hard, especially when things were really bad, to get up and go to work everyday. But there was a purpose in my heart and a drive in my soul that I can’t even explain."

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At least 20 patients are still hospitalized for COVID-19 at the hospital in Greeley.

Below is the full letter Stencel wrote: 

To the people I have lost,

I have seen things over these months that I will never be able to take back. They haunt my dreams and have left marks on my soul. They have changed the way I view the world, people, and most truly my God.

Each day, I took hold of the thin rope tied around you, keeping you on this earth. However, it became frayed and broken ushering you into death while I stood at the gates begging for your life. I walked with you to the end and didn’t want to let go. Please know, you were never alone. I prayed endlessly for you, for your families, and your ultimate healing. I held your hand and bargained with my God to save you. I prayed for you, cared for you, loved you. I stood up for your best interest, passed on my own basic needs, and put you first at every turn.

In the end, I had to stand back and acknowledge our paths have simply intersected on the worst days of your life, and I have no control of the outcome. I meant nothing to you before or after this because you will never know me. You spent most of our time together sedated and paralyzed.

However, for those days/hours I got to care for you, you were my world. It has been an honor to care for you and to help you into the afterlife where at least in my mind you are at peace. Just know, I fought for you, we fought for you. This is our labor of love and we will never quit; we do this for you.

You are loved,

Katie -- a humbled ICU nurse

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