Rose Bromberg, who is 106 years old, has lived through a lot: the 1918 flu pandemic, Prohibition, the Great Depression and two world wars, just to name a few. Now she can add one more event to her long list: she’s also a survivor of COVID-19.
Bromberg was diagnosed in late April with the coronavirus, and her son Howie told Yahoo Life that he and his family were devastated at the news.
“Me and my sister thought the worst,” he shared. “We almost started [to] make [end of life] plans,” he added.
When the coronavirus outbreak began, Bromberg’s care facility went into isolation, which prevented family members from visiting in person – which made the situation even more difficult for her loved ones.
“We haven’t been able to visit since March 3. We’ve had to make do with what it is,” said Bromberg’s son.
Andrea Rivera, the director of activities at The Gardens at Monroe in Monroe Township, N.J., where Bromberg lives, has gotten to know Bromberg well since she first came to live at the facility almost six years ago—and revealed that she and the staff have a nickname for her: Mama Rose.
“Mama Rose is 106 and we want her here forever with us. She’s a little bit of a flirt with the male staff,” joked Rivera, who says Bromberg has “an amazing sense of humor.”
When Rivera found out Bromberg was sick, she says it hit her hard.
“You have that moment when your heart drops. Then you pick yourself up and you say ‘OK. We’re going to help her beat this,’” says Rivera.
Bromberg’s son says his mother has always been a fighter.
“Whatever she had she always came through,” he says. “She broke her hip at 102 and recovered. She’s a survivor,” he adds.
Bromberg spent three weeks in the facility’s COVID-19 isolation unit and slowly but surely improved.
“Every day we waited for updates,” says Bromberg’s son.
Upon news of her positive progress, he says he and his family couldn’t have been happier. Bromberg left the COVID-19 isolation unit on May 22.
“We were euphoric. It was exciting. All of our friends call her ‘wonder woman,’” he says.
Rivera says when she and other staff members heard Bromberg would be leaving the isolation unit, they decided to throw her a party.
“Each day she felt better we felt better. The first time she made a joke we knew ‘she’s back,’” says Rivera. “One of our nurses said ‘we need to get some balloons.’”
When asked how she’s feeling now, Bromberg told Yahoo Life she’s “much better today, thank you. Thank god!”
Bromberg’s son says his mother his doing great—something her 5 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren are all thankful for—and she doesn’t miss a chance to get dressed up for herself and the other residents.
“She’s still the same – she gets dressed every day with makeup, jewelry, lipstick,” he says. “She’s outgoing, funny, always a party-type person,” he adds.
- She beat COVID! Go, Rose!
- Rosie, how are you feeling today?
ROSE BROMBERG: Much better today. Thank you.
- Much better today. Thank you.
ROSE BROMBERG: Thank God for that.
ANDREA RIVERA: Mama Rose is 106, and we want our hero forever with us. She's a little bit of a flirt with our male staff. She still has that spunk in her with an amazing sense of humor, love to laugh, just a kind and sweet lady.
So you have that moment when your heart drops, and then you pick yourself up. And you say, OK, we're going to help her beat this. I spoke to her daughter Linda reassuring her that she's OK. It has to be unbelievably difficult not to talk to your mom, not to see her. The same reassurance we would give Rose, we gave to her family, her children mainly on a daily basis or as frequently as we could.
Each day she felt better, we felt better. And the first time she made a joke, we knew, she's back. And I can remember our director of nursing Michelle Loren said, in two more days, mama Rose will be going back to her room. And we were all excited amongst ourselves, clapping and fist pumping everyone. And that day, one of our nurses said, we need to get some balloons.
- She beat COVID! Go, Rose!
ANDREA RIVERA: Rosie, do you remember we were clapping for you, and we were cheering you on?
ROSE BROMBERG: You?
ANDREA RIVERA: Yes, it was me. How did you feel?
ROSE BROMBERG: Good. I saw you, and I saw them.
ANDREA RIVERA: The excitement of that video is really what we all felt in our hearts. I am convinced positive energy is contagious. It is so important. If we come in with sad faces, sad demeanor, it gives no one hope. When you see a happy face and someone cheering you on, it's just like a sports game. It gives the players energy when someone's rooting them on. We want our residents to know we are rooting for them. Positive energy is good medicine.