Frank knew that COVID-19 cases were increasing in Anchorage. That's why he wore a mask to meet friends at a favorite watering hole at the end of June.
Unfortunately, not everyone in the bar that evening wore a mask. Two days later, Frank developed flu-like symptoms and his temperature began rising quickly and dangerously.
He came to our ER on July 1 with a temperature of 106 degrees and heaviness in his chest. His COVID-19 test was positive and he was admitted to a specialized negative pressure isolation unit where COVID-19 patients are cared for by a team of highly trained caregivers.
Frank's condition worsened and physicians felt he needed an ICU level of care because of his need for high flow oxygen. He was given a clinical trial drug called Remdesivir and convalescent plasma, donated by people who have recovered from COVID-19. The hope was this would help him fight the virus and avoid being put on a ventilator. "We thought we were going to lose him," says his wife Heather.
Frank's family says that being unable to visit and comfort him during his three-week ordeal was extremely difficult. Although caregivers helped the family stay in touch through use of a video phone app, coughing spasms, noise from the negative pressure room and oxygenation equipment made it difficult to communicate.
Frank is known for being stubborn, according to his family. They believe that stubbornness fed his determination to recover. After weeks of hope and worry, Frank's family learned he was improving and would soon be discharged.
Now that he is home, his family is relieved. Although the road to recovery may be long and difficult, Frank and his loved ones are meeting the challenge with optimism and resolve.
They have shared their experience to illustrate that the risk is local and it is very real. They encourage wearing masks, frequent hand washing, social distancing, and staying home when feeling ill.
Frank's story has a happy ending. But this isn't always the case, as we are seeing in our own state and across the country. With the surge of local cases, vigilance is more important now than ever before. Please do your part to keep our community healthy, our economy open and our healthcare system from being overwhelmed.