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COVID-19 Patient Testimonials

Cornwell Family

Adrian Cornwell cradles his newborn daughter Piper in his arms while mom Darla watches with a smile. The couple spent weeks waiting for this moment after doctors at Washington Regional delivered Piper more than two months before her due date. As the region’s largest Level III-A neonatal intensive care unit, Washington Regional cares for hundreds of fragile newborns each year. But Piper wasn’t the only one at risk. Her mother was fighting for her life after becoming critically ill with COVID-19.

“I felt like I had pneumonia,” Darla Cornwell remembers. Concerned about his wife, Adrian decided to take her to the Emergency Department at Washington Regional, where she tested positive for COVID-19. The couple returned home with instructions to monitor Darla’s oxygen level. “Her oxygen plummeted to 8% and then down to 84%,” recalls Adrian. “Her doctor said if it was below 92% to bring her back.”

Darla was admitted to Washington Regional’s COVID intensive care unit. Her OB-GYN, Dr. Amy Scott, and Dr. Allen Moseley, a critical care doctor in the COVID unit, immediately began planning what to do if Darla’s baby needed to be delivered. “They were giving her medication to help develop the baby’s lungs because they had a feeling that if mom got bad enough that she had to go on the ventilator, they were going to have to deliver the baby via C-section,” Adrian explains.

“We were video chatting that evening when a nurse came in and said I was getting worse and they wanted to go ahead and do the C-section,” Darla remembers. Adrian couldn’t be at the hospital with Darla because he had also been exposed to COVID-19. Darla remembers going into surgery. “I can remember them telling me that I was going to go to sleep and when I woke up, I would be intubated.”

Soon after that, Adrian received a call that his daughter had been born. “Dr. Scott said she came out screaming,” he laughs. “She weighed three pounds and had a good set of lungs on her for being born so early.”

He says Piper and Darla’s care teams did all they could to keep him updated over the next few days. “I was getting three to five calls every day, and they were letting me in on everything and answering every question I had. Just to be in the loop was such a relief. I always had good news about the baby, but mom was shaky. For about three days on the ventilator, she was just not showing much improvement.” Adrian did his best to stay positive for the family’s other children.

“I told them we just needed to pray for mom. I told them the baby was doing great, but they were concerned about mom.” Then he got a call. “It was a video call from my wife and I was at a loss for words. She couldn't talk but she could text, and that helped tremendously.”

For Darla, waking up meant learning her newborn daughter was safe. “As soon as I woke up, the nurse told me, ‘Your baby's doing great! She's off oxygen and she's doing better than you are right now,’” she laughs. “Adrian also sent me pictures so I could see what she looked like and I was showing them to all my nurses.” Being separated from her baby wasn’t easy. “There is a camera app the NICU uses that I could access so I could see her. And they sent me a little stuffed animal and a card with her footprints, so that was nice to have.”

After eight days in the hospital, Darla was strong enough to return home. But she and Adrian had to wait another week to see their baby. Finally, 16 days after she was born, Darla and Adrian held Piper for the first time. “It was amazing,” Darla says. “I couldn’t wait,” Adrian adds. “Being able to see her on the camera was great, but you can’t hear her, you can’t see her eyes and her facial expressions.”

Piper will remain in the NICU with her parents at her side until she is big enough to join her older siblings at home. In the meantime, both Adrian and Darla are thankful for the care their family received at Washington Regional. “Thank you. We just can’t say it enough,” says Adrian. “There’s not enough praise for the team here. People would be lucky to have the team of professionals that my wife and my baby have had caring for them.”

Alberto Gonzalez

Alberto Gonzalez spent 20 days at Washington Regional fighting for his life against #COVID19. Like many of us, he never thought he would get sick. Please watch his story to hear his message to the community.

Justin Six

No one wants to end up in the hospital – especially during a pandemic – but when veteran Justin Six of Springdale became sick, help couldn’t wait. “He’d been feeling nauseated and woke up vomiting blood,” his wife Brandi explains. She rushed Justin to the Veterans Health Care System of the Ozarks. Doctors there discovered a virus, one not related to Coronavirus, was responsible for his symptoms. But a CT scan revealed another problem – a dangerous blood clot near Justin’s abdominal aorta. “It was a fluke they found it,” Brandi says. “If it hadn’t been for the virus, they wouldn’t have found the clot.”

Justin would need to see a specialist and the couple could choose which doctor and health system they wanted to use. Brandi, a licensed practical nurse, says Washington Regional was the clear choice. It was where Justin received care in the Neuro Intensive Care Unit after suffering a stroke two years earlier and where Brandi knew he would again receive quality care. “Washington Regional has a really good reputation, especially for cardiac care. They referred us to Dr. Robert Jaggers at Washington Regional Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery and he recommended surgery.”

“I’ve only had one surgery in my life and that’s when I was a child so, I wasn’t looking forward to it,” Justin recalls. While some people might be nervous about having to be hospitalized during the Coronavirus pandemic, Brandi says they weren’t worried. “At no time did I feel it was unsafe to come to the hospital,” she explains. “The pre-op nurse called and explained everything in detail and walked us through where to go and what to expect. Any questions I had, she had answers for.”

Justin’s doctor placed a special stent graft to open his blocked vessel and remove the clot. Extra precautions in place due to the pandemic meant Brandi couldn’t stay at the hospital during her husband’s surgery and recovery. But Brandi says his care team made sure she stayed informed. “They were constantly giving me updates and that really put me at ease.” She says other safety precautions also demonstrated Washington Regional’s commitment to safe, compassionate care. “The Coronavirus screening for everyone, wearing the masks, restricting visitors – it makes me feel like the hospital and clinics are doing all they can to make it as safe as possible for patients.”

After an overnight stay to monitor his recovery, Justin was able to go home. “The nurses were great,” he says. “Even when I woke up at 1:30 in the morning and was hungry, they made sure to find me plenty to eat.” Brandi says her husband received excellent care. “Every single person I was in contact with was really helpful.”
Justin is now getting back to his regular routine, along with his service dog Maggie. The couple wants people to know they shouldn’t wait to get care. “You’re probably safer at the hospital than at your house,” Justin says. Brandi agrees. “Health problems can get worse if you delay care. If there’s something going on with your health, get help right away.”