When Stuart Goldbarg was admitted to Regions Hospital in November with low oxygen levels and in need of a ventilator for quickly progressing COVID-19, he told his medical team and wife, Phyllis, that no matter what they decided “it would all turn out just fine.”

Phyllis and her husband Stuart Goldbarg

Unfortunately, visitor restrictions due to COVID-19 limited Phyllis to virtual video visits. She was able to talk to Stuart and his care team, thanks to generous donors who had already made the use of iPads possible. Those times were precious.

Phyllis used the CaringBridge website to share updates with family and friends about Stuart’s prognosis as well as her appreciation for his caregivers.

“The Regions team was the physical presence of love, compassion and mercy, which I could not be,” she said. “They held his hand when I could not, they stroked his head when I could not, and they were there with him when I could not be.”

Stuart, a lifelong St. Paul resident with a passion for knowledge and helping others, passed away Dec. 9 at age 73.

“Stuart was a learner and had so much wisdom to share,” Phyllis said of her husband, who had amassed a collection of thousands of books over the years. “He could speak to any subject. He was also a doer.”

His more energetic days were spent actively supporting political candidates who shared his passion for social justice, providing shelter for those who were homeless, and affordable housing for those in need. The self-published author had a rich imagination with well-developed writing skills. The iPads at Regions made it possible for Phyllis to continue having conversations with Stuart, even if she had to be the one doing all of the talking.

But iPad use was limited.

Early in Stuart’s stay, Phyllis asked what many have asked: “How can we say ‘thank you’?” Care team members responded by saying, “Wear a mask. Don’t breathe other people’s air. That’s all the thanks we need.” Still, Phyllis wondered, could there be a more tangible way to support the families of those in COVID-19 intensive care units while thanking hospital colleagues? She asked her CaringBridge community if they would be interested in expressing their own gratitude by making financial contributions to buy additional iPads.

The group responded by donating more than $3,000 for Regions Hospital’s COVID-19 Response and Relief Fund. The money will be used to purchase four iPads in Stuart’s memory, and the remaining funds will be used for greatest needs related to COVID-19.

When she shared news of Stuart’s passing with family and friends, Phyllis gave thanks to the care teams for their treatment of Stuart, and for the iPad that helped her stay connected to her husband during the last few weeks of his life.

“We’re talking about an ordinary guy,” said Phyllis, “with an ordinary life and an ordinary wife and an ordinary home who did remarkable things. That’s true of lots of ordinary people.”

When you donate to our COVID-19 Response and Relief Fund, you do a remarkable thing: support patients, families and our entire community. You also provide much-needed safety equipment for care teams at our hospitals and clinics. These teams are working tirelessly to keep us all safe; your gifts make it possible.

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