When Katherine Landis went to the Lancaster General Hospital Emergency Department, she expected to be sent home with some strong cough medicine.
But the situation turned out to be far more serious than she realized.
"I had no idea how sick I was," Landis said. "The next thing I remember, it was six days later. I was coughing, and they were pulling a tube out of my throat."
Landis's brush with COVID-19 – which included severe pneumonia and respiratory failure -- very easily could have turned fatal. The 37-year-old Millersville stay-at-home mom, who is still suffering lingering effects of the virus more than three weeks after her discharge, is profoundly grateful to the care team that saved her life.
Exposure to COVID-19 and Self-Isolation
The harrowing experience began March 27, when Landis was exposed to COVID-19 through a professional contact. She began self-isolating to protect her husband and two children, including one who is immunocompromised.
When Landis developed a cough three days later, she was tested for COVID-19. As she awaited the results, her cough worsened, and her nurse practitioner advised her to go to the Emergency Department.
"We had no idea she would go downhill so fast," her husband Kevin said. "It was shocking."
Admission to Lancaster General Hospital
Landis, who said she was otherwise healthy, was admitted to the hospital with double pneumonia and respiratory failure. Her care team tried an inhaler and other treatments to address her breathing difficulties, without success. She eventually had to be intubated and placed in a medically induced coma.
Landis spent three days in the Intensive Care Unit, followed by three more days on the COVID-19 unit on 8 North. Because the virus is so contagious, she could not leave her room or have visitors. Her care team wore personal protective equipment at all times.
Once Landis's condition stabilized, her worried family was grateful for the chance to connect by phone and FaceTime. Kevin Landis appreciated the staff's response when he called to check on her at all times of day and night.
"They were always willing to take the time to talk to me and put my worries at ease," he said. "I was very impressed with the way they handled something they never had to deal with before."
Recovery and Follow-Up Care
Landis was discharged with home oxygen on Easter Sunday, April 12. While she was thrilled to be reunited with her family, she also was concerned for their safety. She continued to self-isolate, keeping her distance and wearing a mask whenever she had to be in the same room.
Landis ended 26 days of quarantine April 21. She is very thankful that so far no one in her family has shown any COVID-19 symptoms.
Recovery is a slow process. Landis remains on oxygen and feels tired much of the time. Though she now can walk the length of her driveway, she has to sit for 15 minutes afterward in order to recover.
Most of Landis's follow-up appointments take place by phone or video, with the exception of her home nurse visits. She is unsure if the virus will leave lasting effects on her lungs, as some other patients have reported.
Landis credits the LGH Nursing team for providing highly skilled, compassionate care that led to the positive outcome she experienced.
"The nurses are going above and beyond their job descriptions, cleaning, fetching water and other patient needs, changing bedding, plus their regular responsibilities," she said. "They are heroes.
"They are putting their own lives and their family's lives on the line to take care of strangers. There are not enough words in the world to thank them for what they're doing."
Katherine Landis and her family would like to thank her Nursing team:
- Jessica Hogan, ICU
- Sonya Snyder, 8N
- Rachel Billy, 8N
- Steph Born, Supplemental Staff
- Davinia Weinoldt, Supplemental Staff
- Annabelle Sarsuelo, Supplemental Staff
- Lindsay Capaldo, Supplemental Staff
- Justin Litofsky, ICU
Intensive Care Unit
- Kendra Gascho
- Wes Iehle
- Judy Horst
- Stuart Sherry
- Kala Klaus
- Derek Brubaker
- Lilia Staruseva
- Bonnie Wolfe
- Jennifer Strouse
- Angela Barlow
- Blair Duscha
- Mallorie Becker
- Sarah Mahoney
- Kerry Fleming
- Lisa Smeltz
- Tara Horn
- Tracey Smith
- Liezl Fuertes