By Lucy Ashton
A nurse who has joined the efforts to vaccinate people against COVID-19 hopes to protect others from the devastating impact of the virus.
Maria Hewitt lost her husband John to COVID-19 in June 2020. He was the first serving police officer in Scotland to pass away from COVID-19. The couple had been together for 17 happy years and married in May 2016.
“I don’t want to see any other families go through what I did, losing my best friend. I would not want anyone to suffer such pain, sadness and grief that I have to endure since losing my husband,” Maria shares.
Maria is a nurse with NHSGGC’s staff bank, having graduated in adult nursing with distinction at the end of 2019. She was recently trained as a vaccinator as well as carrying out other shifts in other clinical areas across NHSGGC’s hospitals.
Maria has also recently worked on a COVID-19 ward, caring for her patients with John’s memory in mind. While caring for patients seriously ill from COVID-19-related symptoms, Maria said she knew John would want her to help as much as possible in the battle against the disease.
Maria said: “I want to keep giving back to honour John’s memory. He was always trying to help others, that’s the kind of person he was. He was a humbled, caring, and decent man who would always encourage me to help others as he did.
Happy memories – Maria and John on their wedding day.
“It’s been emotional doing the vaccinations as on reflection, I carry the burden of losing John before this vaccination programme became available to the public. Everyone I have vaccinated are beyond grateful and kind to be receiving the vaccine, this reminds me of John; his caring and giving personality, always putting others and myself before himself.”
Both Maria and her daughter Niamh, aged 23, who live in Paisley, also tested positive for COVID-19 in late May 2020.
“By doing the vaccinations I am helping in a very small, but important way in reducing the transmission of this virus, the hospitalisations and the number of deaths.
Maria goes on to say, “Losing John was overwhelmingly heart-breaking, and due to the visiting policies and restrictions I was never able to see John conscious again. I was only ever able to do planned Near Me calls that had been setup by the hospital for patients in ICU. This is in itself was very traumatic, seeing John’s health deteriorate without the comfort of myself was one of the cruellest things I have ever endured. On the Near Me calls my daughter Niamh joined me for most of them for support and to talk to John and reassure him. This was a hard and painful experience for me and my daughter and something we will never truly get over.”
Maria alongside over 1,100 vaccinators are working across NHSGGC vaccinating the population against COVID-19.
Linda de Caestecker, Director of Public Health, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, said: “We are incredibly grateful to Maria for joining our COVID-19 vaccination efforts. Our sympathies are with her for the loss of her husband, and extend to every person who has lost a loved one to COVID-19.
“Our team of COVID-19 vaccinators is providing hope for us all. They have been working work incredibly hard to make sure our population is protected against this deadly virus.
“Our thanks goes out to the team and for everyone who takes up the opportunity to be vaccinated. We encourage everyone to do so.”