On November 3, 2020, John Howard drove Linda, his wife of 47 years, to Jackson Hospital’s Emergency Room fearing the worse. In just a week’s time, Linda had gone from having what she thought was a minor sinus issue to feeling the full effects of COVID-19 raging in her lungs and body. Met at the door by the ER team, Linda’s oxygen saturation was averaging 45, and Dr. Steven Spence explained to Linda they needed to intubate her to improve her oxygen levels. He admitted her to the COVID intensive care floor with pneumonia.
For 31 years, Linda has a registered nurse at Jackson Hospital, but now she was in the intensive care unit, dependent on her coworkers — doctors, nurses, respiratory therapists, and the whole Jackson Hospital team — to save her life.
“I do not remember much, just bits and pieces, because I was sedated the first few weeks while I was on the ventilator. I know I was given the drug Remdesivir, other medications and respiratory care. I also had a feeding tube. I had gone from being able to lift and turn a 200-pound patient the week before I got sick to not even being able to lift my own head,” Linda recalls.
COVID Unit Nurse Manager, Shanna Gainer, remembers, “Linda helped train me as a young nurse at Jackson Hospital back in 1993. She was my mentor and to think that she could possibly succumb to COVID was devastating.” Several times, Linda’s heart rate dropped, but her team of caregivers were able to save her. They did not give up. Linda explains, “I’m here today because of their amazing care, my husband’s support, and my friends and family who prayed for me. I am so very proud of our staff. They saved my life, and they did for me what they do for everyone in our community. You cannot get better care anywhere else.”
On December 3, Linda had improved dramatically and was discharged from the hospital and transferred to a long-term acute care (LTAC) facility for strengthening and to reverse the tracheotomy and feeding tube. Shanna explained, “After about a week, Linda began texting and calling me from LTAC! I was so excited to get those texts and calls! On December 14th, john was finally able to take Linda home. While she still needed rest and time to regain her strength, she was on the road to recovery. By late February Linda was strong enough to return to work and today is back at the bedside of her patients.
Shanna says, “Linda never gave up. She pushed herself to get well. She is truly a miracle!” But for Linda and John, the heroes are those who saved her life.