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'You don't want this': Hales Corners family who lost loved one to COVID-19 urges others to wake up and take virus seriously

Posted at 9:19 PM, Oct 28, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-29 08:40:07-04

WISCONSIN — As Wisconsin set another record number of COVID-19 cases and deaths on Tuesday, we have to remember these are families losing loved ones, as the virus takes a toll on our communities.

Kathy Rich speaks from her heart, days after losing her long-time partner to coronavirus.

“You don't want this. You don't want this upheaval for your family. You don't want that horrible, horrible death. You don't want that disease,” Rich said. “It not only affects the patient, it's absolutely traumatic for the entire family, and that's the way it's going to be for a really long time,” Rich said.

Greg Rucinski was 68 years old, a young 68 with a lot of vitality, according to Rich.

They lived in Hales Corners, and planned to spend the rest of their lives together.

Then in mid-September, a few days after returning from a business trip to St. Louis, Rucinski became sick.

“He became feverish, delirious, ill, in every conceivable way,” Rich said.

Rich wasn't there. She was quarantined in New York after her daughter had a baby.

Though, Rucinski’s 22-year-old daughter tried to take care of him.

Eventually, Rucinski went to Elmbrook Hospital after developing pneumonia, and was diagnosed with COVID-19, but they sent him home.

Days later, things got worse, he was admitted to Ascension in Franklin and went on a ventilator.

“He wanted to live, that's why he consented to the vent,” Rich said.

Doctors treated him with Remdesivir, steroids and an antibiotic, but Rucinski didn't rally back.

Rich had to say goodbye to him through Facetime.

“Thank god for technology. I will never regret Facetiming him at the end,” Rich said. “It wasn't easy, but to me, I was seeing him, I was seeing Greg.”

Now as she continues to grieve, she remembers the good times, seeing Rucinski racing his Porsche, and spending time outdoors. She’ll also have those memories of going on work trips with Rucinski, who was a trained pharmacist working in the insurance industry.

However, it's the little things she'll miss the most.

“I used to complain about his fingerprints on the refrigerator. I shouldn't have, I'm gonna miss that stuff,” Rich said. “and the way he would always yell for me, ‘Kathy!’”

They won't get to enjoy those moments anymore, and Rich wants others to realize they're not immune.

“I just hope people start waking up to the fact that they really could die,” Rich said.

She wants to instill this message in people because she tells me they were insanely careful, took every precaution, and never expected this to happen.

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