COVID-19 survivor shares story of recovery with home care services


ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Although COVID-19 has taken the lives of so many, there are many who have survived.

On Tuesday, officials with the University of Rochester Medical Center shared the story of one local survivor.

“I was pretty weak when I came home and they helped me with moving around making sure I was safe,” William Barish said, who was in the hospital from April 1 through the 27 due to the coronavirus.

COVID-19 has caused nearly 350,000 deaths worldwide; the number in the U.S. is nearing 100,000. In the midst of these devastating losses, however, there are success stories – people who have contracted the virus, have become critically ill and placed on ventilators in an effort to save them, and they have survived.

“I’m not sure if I went to another hospital that the outcome would have been the same. I think I got the best medicine available and that’s one of the reasons I survived that.” Once discharged, Barish received home care to help transition him back to normal life.

Dr. Anthony P. Pietropaoli, Vice Chief of Pulmonary Diseases and Critical Care said when patients require life support, they can have a hard time physically adjusting without it even when they are free from the virus. It is known as post intensive care syndrome and requires time to adjust.

“It’s going to take time to get back to previous level of functioning but it is going to happen. The most important thing if you can get through it you can survive,” Pietropaoli said.

UR Medicine Home Care President and CEO Jane Shukitis said there have been between 115 and 120 home care patients provided to those COVID-19 patients to help them transition home. Shukitis said the curve for the home care patients has followed the curve of the hospitalization rates, just two weeks or so behind.

“Once they are able to come home from the hospital nursing is very important in the beginning just to monitor them medically but therapy is also really important to restore their muscle because the weakness that comes from the illness,” Shukitis said. “Our visits are always done with full PPE on, our staff are all trained. We try to minimize when we need to the amount of time we’re in the home and the amount of physical touch.”

She said the ability to utilize telehealth has really helped the nurses keep in touch with the patients and monitor their healing process as well as keep them safe from the virus. “I’m really pleased to say that not a single one of our clinicians have contracted the virus through home care.”

Barish said his grateful home care as well as the telehealth services as they guided him through the recovery process. “I’m feeling really well, I’m walking around Cobb’s Hill, around the reservoir,” Barish said, “I’m not to where I’d like to be, but I’d doing much better.”

While hospitalized, Barish said his granddaughter was born and he is looking forward to meeting her.

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