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Woman beats COVID-19 while rehabilitating from fall, then celebrates 84th birthday

Kansas City Star logoKansas City Star 5/1/2020 By Katie Moore, The Kansas City Star

A Mission woman who spent her 84th birthday in bed fighting off COVID-19 ended up getting a special celebration.

Though Anita Striegel never felt sick from the coronavirus, she said she is humbled to have survived.

“I feel like I am very, very fortunate,” said Striegel, who lived in Kansas City for several years and taught middle school.

After suffering a fall in March, Striegel ended up at Saint Luke’s Bishop Spencer Place in Kansas City for rehabilitation.

Administrator Frank Trimboli said she spiked a fever the day after she arrived and was moved into isolation, where she was monitored and tested for COVID-19.

When Striegel’s doctor, dressed in protective gear, told her the test was positive, she was surprised.

“That scared the heck out of me,” she said. “I thought, ‘I can’t die from this because I have two pugs at home.’”

As Striegel rested and was monitored for a couple of weeks, she said nurses were attentive and caring.

“You call them at 3 o’clock in the morning and they come in and they’re happy. It’s amazing what they do,” she said. “I have an appreciation for nurses that I never had before.”

On March 24, her 84th birthday came and went.

After Striegel tested negative twice, Trimboli said staff wanted to celebrate her birthday and her healing.

When he approached her about the idea, “her smile was fantastic,” he said.

“I asked her, ‘Well how are you doing today?’ ’I just beat COVID, how do you think I’m doing?’” he recalled her saying. “It was an absolute career-defining moment.”

Trimboli, who started his career as a nursing assistant, said as an administrator, “you tend to get distanced from the actual human interactions and the actual love and feelings that you have towards your residents and she reminded me ... as to why I got into this.”

The next day, Striegel was wheeled to her new room, where she would stay to get rehabilitation care from her fall.

“There were people on both sides of the aisle and everybody was clapping and yelling,” she said. “Every person that I passed gave me a flower. And it was the nicest thing.”

The room was filled with birthday decorations and balloons.

“I was kind of numb because I didn’t expect anything like that,” Striegel said.

Striegel has been the only COVID-19 case at Bishop Spencer, which has about 200 residents whose needs range from short-term care to assisted living.

“Today I feel wonderful,” Striegel said during a phone interview Friday.

The Kansas City metropolitan area has recorded 2,111 COVID-19 cases including 124 deaths.

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©2020 The Kansas City Star (Kansas City, Mo.)

Visit The Kansas City Star (Kansas City, Mo.) at www.kansascity.com

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