UnityPoint celebrates a local COVID-19 survivor


PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — One local family is showing gratitude for UnityPoint Health after a loved one successfully fought off COVID-19.

On April 20, David Drockelman was discharged with an honor walk from UnityPoint Health with cheers and applause from team members after battling for his life for nearly a month in the ICU. It all started on March 30, when his son Jonathon submitted a general inquiry to the UnityPoint Health website asking to deliver a message to his sedated father, who was on a vent. 

The Drockelman family and Pastor Grey captured hearts across the central Illinois community. Now, there’s another reason to celebrate this story of love and kindness as the family welcomes their father, a 71-year-old COVID-19 survivor, home.

“It’s so hard to be far away and not be able to be there for him,” Jonathon wrote. “If someone could please tell him that his son, Jonathon, loves him very much, that would really mean the world to me. I know he is sedated and on a ventilator. I just need him to hear that. Thank you so much for everything.”

UnityPoint Health Patient Experience Coordinator Christie Zachman caught wind of the message. She explained UnityPoint was working on facilitating virtual visits for patients and their loved ones. During their time of need, Pastor Grey stepped up to accommodate the family’s virtual visit without hesitation.

He worked overtime to ensure this family talked and saw their father virtually.

“Working with Pastor Grey has been a beautiful experience,” Jonathon said. “He was very willing to help me FaceTime my father. His patience and understanding have truly warmed my heart. The first time the family talked to my dad was a very humbling experience. I know we all had a sense of relief to be able to speak to him. The whole experience in working with Pastor Grey, the nurses, doctors, and Ms. Zachman was so therapeutic for us.”

A UnityPoint representative said the team enjoyed celebrating David’s milestone with him as he left the hospital to finish his recovery at home. While the Drockelmans are still only reuniting with their father from a distance, they have the comfort of knowing he is home and safe. 

“We honestly couldn’t thank them enough for not only what they’re doing for us but what they’re doing for all the patients and their loved ones,” Jonathon said.

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