Every day, they waited for news.
As Murrells Inlet resident Charles “Chal” Costello battled for his life against COVID-19 at Tidelands Waccamaw Community Hospital, dozens of friends from his native Pennsylvania hoped and prayed he would pull through.
“We had probably about 40 people that were hanging on news every day about Chal,” says Mike Pilla, who grew up with Costello in northeast Philadelphia. “Chal is a strong guy, but he was in pretty bad shape, and we were pretty worried.”
When news came in early April that Costello had turned the corner and was on the path toward recovery, the group was overjoyed. After being admitted to Tidelands Waccamaw on March 26, Costello spent more than a week in a medically induced coma relying on a mechanical ventilator to breathe as he battled the infection with the help of the care team at the hospital.
After beating COVID-19, Murrells Inlet man gets hero's welcome homeRead Article
“There was a lot of gratitude – a lot of thanks and hope,” Pilla says. “There was a picture taken of Chal and the nurses at the hospital when he was being released, and someone put a caption on it that reads, ‘Chalie’s Angels.’
“I’ve shared that with so many people. There’s so much negative stuff right with this whole situation, it’s good to have something positive.”
Soon, Costello’s friends turned their attention toward giving back to the care team that helped him beat the disease.
Without detailing their efforts to Costello or his wife, Diane, who successfully beat her own COVID-19 infection at home, group members donated enough money — $1,250 — to buy 50 Amazon gift cards for nurses, respiratory therapists, environmental service team members and others involved directly and indirectly in Costello’s care.
“The whole thing is a matter of gratitude,” says Pilla, who coordinated the effort with help from another Costello friend, Patrick Sheffield. “These people are in a storm. I was an EMT for a long time, and I know what that’s like, but I only knew what that was like for an hour or two every day. These people are doing that 10 to 12 hours a day.”
Bessie Brown, clinical director of 2 East at Tidelands Waccamaw, where Charles received care as his condition improved, says the gift cards warmed hearts.
“The support our organization has received in the fight against COVID-19 has been incredible,” she says. “We are so grateful.”
For the Costellos, news of their friends’ generosity was overwhelming. As they both battled the disease, other friends and relatives supported them, too, with donations for food and even a beautiful blanket inscribed with inspirational sayings.
“It just made me cry,” Diane Costello says. “There’s so much kindness out there. We knew our friends were wonderful, but until something like this happens, it’s easy to take it for granted a little bit.”
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