Patient Story: A Close Call with COVID-19

Care & Compassion Through COVID-19

What stands out most in Derek’s mind, however, isn’t his illness, but the care and compassion he received from his medical team.

It was early March of 2020 when Derek Camps-Campins became sick with what he thought was just a bad cold. The COVID-19 pandemic had only just begun and, at the time, there was no available vaccine and treatment options were still extremely limited.

“I had a low grade, mild fever in the beginning, and then it got up to almost 103 when I actually went into the hospital,” he recalls, “I also started to have progressive issues with breathing. That was the part that really started to concern me.”

At first, Derek tried staying positive, telling himself that today was the day the sickness would peak and that tomorrow would be better. However, his symptoms only worsened over the course of the next eight days and, eventually, he showed up at Winchester Hospital’s emergency department where he was met by a nurse, admitted, and quickly swept up into COVID-19 protocol.

After three days in the hospital, Derek found himself struggling to breathe despite being given oxygen. It was then that he was moved into the intensive care unit, so he could be monitored more closely. Derek’s oxygen levels continued to dwindle and his care team decided it would be best in his best interest to be put on a ventilator. It was news that he didn’t want to hear and at first, he declined.

"It was really the nurses that were the ones who convinced me,” he says. Derek recalls one of his nurses clearing his room, so she could talk to him one-on-one. She walked him through the reality of his current state and pointed out that, at the time, his strength was his greatest asset but it could also decline quickly. She encouraged him to call his wife and by the end of their conversation, Derek decided that the ventilator would be the best course of treatment.

“Once I agreed to it, she brought the team back in again,” he says, “And within minutes, they basically had me sedated.” Ultimately, Derek relied on a ventilator to breathe for two days. When the ventilator was removed, he took it upon himself to start tracking his oxygen levels, and eventually, he found himself able to breathe without the help of an oxygen tank.

What stands out most in Derek’s mind, however, isn’t his illness, but the care and compassion he received from his medical team. “The nurses were in constant contact with my wife,” he says, “Before I went under, I told them, ‘You know, I have three kids and a niece that I’m responsible for, and I just want to get home. That’s all I want to do; I just want to get home."

He explains the way his nurses went above and beyond to make him feel at ease, contacting his wife for pictures and putting together a collage for him. He recalls that, “every day, Kerry (one of his nurses) would say, ‘Remember what you’re fighting for.’” And he did.

Derek also recounts his care team making time to hold his phone for him, so he could video chat his wife. He describes his nurses, Kerry and Lisa, as “unbelievable” and calls them his “medical ambassadors.” Upon being discharged from the hospital, his care team made a video congratulating him, a token of appreciation that he later returned in kind.

Two years later, Derek is happy, healthy, and back to coaching his children's sports teams. He’s grateful for his health as well as for the lasting connections he made with his care team.

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