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93-year-old woman recovers from COVID-19 with help from cardiac & pulmonary rehab

Published: Jul. 13, 2021 at 5:36 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) -COVID-19 can wreak havoc on a patient’s lungs and heart. One 93-year-old Elmwood woman, who contracted COVID-19 in November, is now back to normal thanks to cardiac and pulmonary Rehab.

Joann Hill was facing a long road to recovery after her two-week stay for COVID-19 care at CHI Health St. Elizabeth. A large part of her recovery was getting her lungs and heart back into shape.

“It was scary to come in here,” said Hill. “At first I was told I probably wasn’t eligible to be put on a ventilator, and then they asked, ‘Did I have a living will?’ and then I thought, ‘Uh-oh, am I going to get out of here?”

It was a long 15 day stay in the hospital for Joann when she was diagnosed with COVID-19 in November.

“My daughter dropped me off, and then she wanted to come in and check on me and they said, ‘No, no visitors,’” said Hill.

She eventually fought off the virus. After she was discharged, her primary care physician wanted to get her lungs and heart back into shape to help heal from COVID-19.

“You have to breathe, you have to have a good heartbeat, that is strong,” said Kristy Hardy, Nurse Practitioner, CHI Health St. Elizabeth. “If you don’t have that recovery won’t be as great.”

So Joann got to work doing treadmill workouts, band and weighted exercises.

“My least favorite is the treadmill,” said Hill.

Soon, Joann didn’t have to use oxygen and started moving up to weighted exercise.

“She was quite weak, and over that 12 weeks, I’ve seen her improve, as she said, even beyond prior to what she was before becoming ill,” said Hardy.

Staff at CHI’s Cardio-Pulmonary Rehab Center said they are seeing younger and younger post-COVID patients coming in.

“Right now there is an uptick of 30-40-year-olds with COVID coming into our rehab,” said Tiffany Quicke, Respiratory Therapist. “They’re having shortness of breath and on oxygen. They’re having memory issues.... it’s a new thing for us, because it’s not typical. We’re learning new things every day on how to treat these patients.

Now for 93-year-old Joann, things are different than they were before contracting COVID-19.

“Probably feel better than I did before,” said Hill. “It’s great to recover and do what I like to do.”

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