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Fred Ohrt had COVID-19, and there were a few nights where the shortness of breath seemed to be getting the best of him. Sensing the worst one evening, he told his wife, Jackie, he didn't think he was going to make it.
Fortunately, Fred's story has a happy ending. After nearly a week at UnityPoint Health – Marshalltown, the 77-year-old is back home and well on his way to recovery.
Looking back, there are many things that come to Fred's mind – when he learned he was positive for the virus, when his wife rushed him to the ER, and several long nights where sleep was impossible because of shortness of breath.
One memory seems to override the rest, though – how well he was received by his caregivers at the hospital.
"They are the nicest people, and I don’t know where I'd be without them," said Fred. "You know, I don't go to the hospital very often, and I don't expect to be treated like a king, but they were very sympathetic. I would recommend that place to anybody."
At that point, Fred had already tested positive for COVID-19 and was doing his best to self-isolate and recover. However, it was a pulse oximeter that ultimately sent him to the ER. Blood oxygen levels under 90 are a key measurement for determining when to go to the ER. Fred’s kept coming up 88.
Once admitted, he leaned on the encouragement of the employees and his family, who visited by phone (as routine visitors were not allowed).
"Even though he wasn't feeling well, he was always kind and tried to maintain a sense of humor," recalled Karrie Lisboa, ARNP. "He didn’t have much of an appetite and mentioned that a candy bar sounded good, so I happily supplied him with some candy and a slice of my birthday cake."
"What a blessing she was," Fred said of Lisboa and his other caregivers.
"I can't imagine what it must be like to be so sick and not have your family or friends by your side," Lisboa said. "On the day of his discharge, Fred was so relieved to be going home he teared up, and I gave him a hug in full PPE. COVID-19 has been tough on all of us, but Fred absolutely made my week."
Fred has been recovering at home since his discharge on May 8. Family and friends even celebrated his homecoming in a social-distancing-kind-of-way. Fred took a seat in his driveway while everyone drove by the house, honked and stopped to talk from the street.
"So that was pretty good encouragement right there," Fred said.