A Story of Breath, or Death

Thanks to kind and thoughtful donors,  Baptist Health patients are receiving excellent care during the COVID-19 crisis.

Patients like Tommy Shapard, who at 45 years old, was diagnosed with COVID-19. Tommy has shared his story, and his thanks.

Your teams are compassionate, these teams are brave. They’re putting their personal health on the line to save other people … They are the superheroes who are fighting this virus and helping the people of our community, severe cases, helping them to recover and get home.

Tommy and his wife, Rachel, heading home from Baptist South.
Tommy and his family:
Drew, Rachel, Mac, and Kate

As someone who lives with seasonal asthma and allergies, I have been paying attention to the coronavirus outbreak since December. But I had no idea that this would be my story. A story of breath or death.

After starting to feel a flaring of asthma symptoms, things suddently began to feel different. I experienced a harsh, dry cough. My throat and esophagus took on a cold, cutting sensation whenever I took a breath. The cough, which was infrequent, was brutal. After 10 days of worsening symptoms, and inadequate answers, I decided tried something different.

On March 25, I called Telescope Health to virtually talk to a physician’s assistant. After an evaluation, the PA called the Emergency Department at Baptist South and told them I was on the way.
And most likely, I had COVID-19.

I drove myself to the hospital and could barely walk up to the checkpoint.
In the ED, I was tested for COVID-19. The results were positive.

What happened next was swift. Doctors and nurses rushed me in a special elevator to the eighth floor, the COVID ICU. Once I was there, I met my team of more than 20 health care workers, including an infectious disease doctor, a pulmonologist and technicians, just to name a few.

I am not a NASCAR fan, but it felt like I had my own pit crew that had surrounded me and they all knew what they were doing. And they looked me in the eye and called me Tommy.

They saved my life, and these caregiviers need to be congratulated. They need to be loved. They need to be held up as heroes in our community. I’m grateful and humbled because I know not everyone leaves the hospital like I did.

Tommy spent 7 days at Baptist South and he’s now at home, with his family, resting, recovering, and getting stronger.

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