HOMETOWN HERO: South Jersey respiratory therapist beats COVID-19

CAPE MAY, New Jersey (WPVI) -- A Cape May, New Jersey respiratory therapist is set to go back to work after a bout with the coronavirus.

The quiet bay is a sanctuary for Sherry and Michael Stanbach. It's a peace that's been elusive for the Cape May couple for months.

"We've seen the sickest of the sick," said Sherry, who's a respiratory therapist at Cape Regional Medical Center.

She's an expert on lung diseases and was forced to learn about this new one, COVID-19, very quickly.
"We go in crying and we come home crying, but we know that we're doing what we have to do and we're saving lives," she said.

"She's on the frontlines. She's there. She intubates. She sees these people," said Michael, who is simply happy to have her home and healthy.

Sherry just recovered from the virus, too.

"She had worked so hard not to put herself in that position. We couldn't eat together, we couldn't go places together, we couldn't go to the beach," he said.

For two weeks, he stayed on the main floor of their home while she lived upstairs, isolated, unable to work or be near her husband or find peace in her favorite place.
"I have a different outlook on life now, just the not knowing if you're going to recover or the not knowing if you're going to get it again," she said.

Stanbach's quarantine after battling COVID-19 ended Friday.

The first thing she and her husband did was go to the beach. They drank their coffee and ate their bagels and at least for a minute, life felt normal, but she knows that feeling is elusive too. Monday, she'll go back to work.

Despite the uncertainty of this pandemic, Michael is certain of one thing: his wife is a hero.

"The people that are in the hospital, those are the last people they'll see. They don't get to say goodbye, but I know that my wife is there along with the team, and they're going to give them the best care they can get," he said.

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