WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — Kent Hospital is mourning the loss of one of its own.
One week shy of her 71st birthday, Joan Kershaw Swann lost her battle with COVID-19 on Wednesday, April 29.
Joan worked at Kent for nearly 50 years, first as a nurse, and more recently as the ICU secretary. Her best friend and coworker Ginny Wilcox took care of Joan during her long fight against the virus.
“She cared about everybody,” Ginny said. “She was just good to every person. She truly loved her patients, and patients loved her.”
In addition to being a dedicated nurse, Joan was also a loving mother, stepmother and grandmother.
“The thing that she loved the most was Glenna and her grandson and her family,” Ginny added.
Joan was also a fierce friend, according to Ginny, and always worried about others, despite was was going on in her own life.
“When my husband was very sick and dying, she was here at my home every night, bringing him hot chocolate,” Ginny recalled.
Joan was rushed to the hospital at the beginning of April, about a week after first showing symptoms and then testing positive for COVID-19. She spent 25 days at Kent, fighting against the vicious virus that has changed our world.
“I’ve never been so proud of the staff, fighting courageously to save their peer and colleague because they really loved her,” Ginny said.
That love was evident in the blue hearts staff members put up in Joan’s hospital windows. Ginny said members of each department would stop in to check on Joan’s progress.
At the end, when Joan’s family couldn’t be there because of visitation restrictions, her work family was.
“Two physicians were at her bedside, as were many staff members surrounding her,” Ginny said. “That gave us a great honor, to be there with her at the end.”
Ginny said the hospital is a somber place in Joan’s absence. They’ve held multiple moments of silence to honor her.
The hospital’s president, Robert Haffey, released this statement on Joan’s passing:
“The COVID-19 pandemic has hit our nation hard, and the loss of one of our own makes it a grim reality that this virus does not discriminate. Globally, health care workers dedicate their lives to saving the lives of others, including putting themselves in harm’s way to do so. Joan Kershaw Swann was someone everyone at the hospital knew… a professional member of our tight-knit health care family for 48 years. She is someone we all would describe as caring, dedicated and an icon. Joan will be sincerely missed by everyone at Kent Hospital. Our sincerest condolences go out to her family, friends and loved ones.”
Despite the pain of losing her best friend, Ginny said she finds comfort in knowing that Joan is no longer suffering, and knowing she’s now with her longtime companion Artie, who tragically lost his battle with COVID-19 just days before Joan.
“For me, she’s at peace,” Ginny said. “I will miss her terribly, but I know what she had was very hard to come back from. I am proud to call her my friend, always.”