Fowler Released after Battle with COVID-19 from NMMC-Iuka
COVID-19 survivor Harold Fowler, 79, of Glen got out of North Mississippi Medical Center-Iuka on Feb. 24 amidst great fanfare. After 50 days in the Iuka hospital, the staff sent him off with gifts, celebratory balloons and encouraging cards as they lined the halls and cheered for him. Harold’s frightening ordeal started Dec. 27 with only a worrisome cough. On Dec. 29, he tested positive for COVID-19.
“I called him four times a day for several days to check on him,” says his daughter, Karen Fowler, of Atlanta. “One day he told me he was so weak he couldn’t get out of bed.” Karen asked her brother, Kerry Fowler of Corinth, to go check on their father—and Kerry found him in the floor. The doctor scheduled Harold for an infusion of monoclonal antibodies, a relatively new treatment given to COVID-19 positive patients who are at high risk of getting severely ill.
When Harold arrived at NMMC-Iuka for the infusion, his oxygen level was critically low. An oxygen saturation level in the 70s made him ineligible for the infusion and required admission to the hospital’s COVID-19 unit. “They started him on remdesivir and other medications and told us he would be in the hospital at least five days,” Karen says. “Since patients on the COVID unit can’t have visitors, the nurses were our line of communication. They were fantastic.”
When Harold’s condition declined, Dr. Jennifer Thompson-Davis told his children to prepare for the worst. Even on bi-level positive airway pressure (BiPAP), he struggled to breathe. “She told me that Kerry and I needed to decide if we wanted him put on a ventilator if things didn’t improve,” Karen says. “If so, he would have to be moved to a larger hospital.” Before they had to make that decision, though, their father began to rebound. One day the family was able to visit through his window.
After 20 days, he was moved off the COVID unit to a regular hospital room. Before long he was sitting up on the side of his bed. He was weaned off BiPap and down to only a few liters of oxygen. As he recovered, Harold graduated to the hospital’s swingbed program, where he enjoyed his daily physical, occupational and speech therapy.
Finally, Harold was deemed well enough to go home. His family brought cookies to show their appreciation to hospital staff. “They took very good care of me,” he says. And when he’s up it, Harold plans to bake them some banana bread, his specialty.