"This virus has taken a healthy man with no prior medical conditions and impacted every organ in his body," Gary Woodward's wife said

By Gabrielle Chung
November 30, 2020 11:14 PM
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Gary Woodward
| Credit: GILBERT FUNERAL HOME

An intensive care unit nurse working on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic has died after contracting COVID-19, according to his family.

Gary Woodward, 64, died in the early hours of Saturday at Ascension Saint Thomas West Hospital in Nashville, the same facility where he had served as an ICU team leader for the past 25 years, according to his obituary.

The nurse fell ill with the virus in late October and was hospitalized in the ward where he worked a week later, WKRN reported.

"We knew that there was a good risk that either one of us could end up testing positive," his wife Jacque Woodward, who also works in health care, told the news outlet last week. "This is the first time he’s ever been in the hospital for an overnight stay. He has no, you know, no other diagnosis."

By Sunday, Woodward was on a ventilator and undergoing dialysis due to kidney failure, according to Jacque.

He also experienced other complications such as a rapid heart rate and a body temperature of 93 degrees, she told WSMV.

"This virus has taken a healthy man with no prior medical conditions and impacted every organ in his body," Jacque said.

Fahad Tahir, the president and CEO of Ascension Saint Thomas West, tells PEOPLE in a statement: "For those of you who did not have the honor of knowing Gary, he was something fierce and a true embodiment of our Mission at Ascension Saint Thomas."

"As witnessed in his dedication to his calling since the beginning of this pandemic, Gary’s love for his patients was remarkable and inspiring," he says. "We are truly better for having Gary as part of our Ascension Saint Thomas family."

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According to the WTVF, Woodward's wife — who met the nurse when they were teenagers — recently renewed her wedding vows to mark their 45th anniversary. "I stood at the altar," Woodward said, "And I made the commitment in sickness and in health, and I stand by that today."

A native to Kentucky, Woodward graduated from Madisonville Community College in 1994 before going to work for Ascension Saint Thomas West.

In his obituary, he is described as a "mentor to countless nurses and other team members" who "truly had a servant’s heart and did all he could to provide the best care for his patients and his coworkers."

He is survived by his wife, his three daughters and his six grandchildren.

As of Monday, there have been more than 13,601,900 cases of COVID-19 in the United States and at least 267,900 deaths from coronavirus-related illnesses, according to a New York Times database.

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