RICHMOND HEIGHTS, Mo. — The main entrance at St. Mary's Hospital has been closed for more than a month, but when the doors opened Sunday, it marked a milestone.
Maurice Cooley is the 100th COVID-19 patient discharged from the hospital. His nurses and doctors lined the way to his release as he was wheeled through the main entrance to a waiting car.
Pharrell William's "Happy" played as a soundtrack to this journey, but it was drowned out by applause.
"That was really something because I've never been in the hospital before," Cooley said. "This is the second time that I've been in the hospital in 58 years, and this is the second time here."
Cooley initially came to SSM Health's St. Mary's Hospital on April 9, but his symptoms were mild enough that staff thought he'd recover best at home. A week later, he was back requiring serious help.
"My main thing with it was it was shortness of breath," Cooley said. "If I coughed, I need some oxygen or something."
Cooley's exit is more than goodbye for staff. It's a morale booster when they need it most.
"This is what motivates us," Dr. Ankit Nahata said.
Nahata works in the ICU and says he's "never seen times like this," calling the situation "truly unprecedented."
As Cooley climbs into the car for his ride home, he waves to the staff that saw him through his recovery.
Though Nahata warns "we have a long way to go," Cooley's case is one more success in the fight against the coronavirus.