When a Nurse Gets COVID: Her Tough Road Back

MONDAY, July 20, 2020 (HealthDay News) – Nurse case manager Sharon Tapp recalls lying in a hospital bed in Bethesda, Maryland, feverishly ill with COVID-19, asking for a bedpan.

Then, in what appeared to be the next moment, she found herself in another bed in an unknown room in what appeared to be a different hospital, surrounded by people she did not know.

“It was like, why am I here? I woke up and I was like, Johns Hopkins? I didn’t come here,” said Tapp, 60, still hoarse after a tracheostomy. healing. “I was looking around everyone and I was like, why am I here?”

Tapp was there because she had just survived a months-long battle with COVID-19, a bout that forced medics to put her into a medically induced coma after taking her by helicopter to Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore.

Tapp’s disease was so severe that at one point she needed a heart bypass machine to deliver oxygen to her sickly body, said Dr Alba Azola, resident in physical medicine and health. rehabilitation at Hopkins.

“It’s basically the bypass machine they use for open heart surgery,” said Azola. “They have to circulate the blood outside your body to oxygenate it because your lungs are not able to oxygenate your blood.”

Tapp spent a month on the machine, “which is really amazing. It’s a very long time,” said Azola.

“The COVID pneumonia completely prevented his lungs from supplying oxygen,” Azola said. “The inflammation in her lungs was such that she couldn’t oxygenate her blood through her lungs.”

Tapp and Dr. Azola on the day of discharge from the hospital

Tapp’s ordeal began in early March while she worked at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Washington, DC.

She suspects that she contracted COVID-19 from a patient with whom she spent about 10 minutes “delivering my spiel” about her role in her medical care. Shortly thereafter, the patient was transferred to an isolation room and tested positive for coronavirus.

About two weeks later, on March 18, Tapp began to experience fatigue, weakness, chest pain, high fever, and headache. Her local emergency care center tested her for COVID-19 and told her to quarantine for 14 days at her home in Lanham, Md., Based on her flu-like symptoms.

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