A front line hero of a different kind

Darby Kyhl is an engineer at Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital. Courtesy

Throughout the pandemic, health care workers, such as doctors and nurses, on the front lines of the COVID-19 fight have been dubbed heroes.

“While they are dealing with and treating patients face-to-face, there are other essential workers making a huge difference in patient lives, as well,” said Sandra Marquez, nurse manager at Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital. “We’re all on the front lines. It’s not just the health care workers that we see day in and day out. There’s a lot of people behind the scenes that we need to recognize.”

That’s why, when she heard about Darby Kyhl, an engineer at Henry Mayo who went out of his way to help a COVID-19 patient, she knew she had to find a way to help. 

Though aware of the dangers, Kyhl donned personal protective equipment to fix a COVID-19 patient’s television, knowing the patient was alone with only the TV to help them feel more at ease.

“I had just gotten the hearing aids on a trial, so I wasn’t used to wearing them,” Kyhl said. “At that time, we didn’t have to wear face masks, only if we were in a COVID room, so when I pulled the face mask off and threw it in the trash, one of the hearing aids came off.” 

Kyhl was halfway home before he realized what had happened, immediately returning to work to hunt for the missing hearing aid.

“I started digging through the trash, and I didn’t find it, but I ended up getting COVID,” Kyhl added. “I had all the proper PPE on, but I think when I was digging in the trash looking for the hearing aid is when I caught it.” 

Thankfully, Kyhl only had mild symptoms, and was quickly able to return to work after his two-week quarantine, but because he had lost one of his hearing aids, the company told him he now had to purchase the $5,000 equipment, only offering to waive the deductible for the one he lost.

“I’m always left out of conversations because I never know what’s going on and can’t hear most of the time,” Kyhl said while recounting the struggles he’s faced, unable to hear. “People get mad at me for asking them to repeat themselves.” 

“That just really broke my heart,” Marquez added. “I think everybody should be able to hear and see. Those are just basic things that people should be able to do.” 

So, Marquez organized a GoFundMe, hoping to raise the $5,000 to pay the company, as Kyhl is still making payments.

“I’ve always felt like everybody’s on my team, whether it’s the housekeeper, the engineer or whoever, they make our jobs easier to take care of patients,” she added, “so they should also be recognized as heroes, too.” 

While Kyhl says he still cannot hear very well, he’s thankful for the help he’s received from his colleagues and the community.

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