Grateful for Care at UH Parma
For a burly, vigorous man who was rarely sick a day in his life, Len Flors, 69, was stunned to be felled by COVID-19.
The retired steel mill plumber of Parma had never missed work, and in retirement he remained hearty. So he grew increasingly concerned as fatigue, fever, nausea and a nagging cough persisted in late July. After getting tested, he learned he had COVID-19. His condition worsened at home over 10 days, and he was admitted through the Emergency Department to the Intensive Care Unit at University Hospitals Parma Medical Center.
Being admitted to the ICU was sobering for this active father of four and grandfather of nine, including a new baby born just weeks before he went into the hospital. No visitors are allowed in the room of a COVID-19 patient. While he spoke to his wife, Wendy, on the telephone, he refused to use FaceTime. He didn't want his grandchildren to see the pillar of their family on liters of oxygen, isolated and alone.
Wendy Flors relied heavily on the responsive staff for updates on her husband, who had grown dour and withdrawn. A retired special needs aide with the Parma City Schools, Wendy was saddened to see this normally jovial man – who in pre-pandemic times enjoyed travel and casinos with her and sporting events with their grandkids – reduced to one-word answers. Calls from nurses like Lindsey Wells and Kayla Rinaldi, often after already long shifts, were a lifeline for her. They became like family, when her beloved husband was in their hands.
Wells, who consulted James Hill, MD, Chief Medical Officer of UH Parma Medical Center for some additional help to spare Len from the darkness consuming him, became a kind of “guardian angel." A mild dose of a rapid-acting anti-depressant pulled him through. Soon Flors was conversational and acting like himself again.
“It's such a solitary experience," said Dr. Hill, who also works in the ICU. “The patients are not only dealing with a very deadly disease that can worsen at any point, but they're also separated from their loved ones."
“I don't know if he would have made it without that," says Wendy, who had tested positive for COVID-19 after her husband and was recovering at home. She noted that he had never needed medication before these unusually isolating circumstances. “We're always together, and not knowing if he would come home has been very difficult. This virus takes a toll."
Len believes that medication to help his mood changed everything. He began to believe again in getting better and going home again. And he's so grateful that the local hospital five minutes from his house, which has been a cornerstone of his community his whole life, has always been there for him.
“We've been coming here forever," Len said from his hospital room. “It's where you turn when you have any health problem. All my doctors are here. I've seen up close how hard they work, and it makes me want to get better."
Now six weeks after his discharge following a harrowing 17-day battle with COVID-19, a healthy and happy Len walked into UH Parma to thank his caregivers who saved his life. No longer on supplemental oxygen, he is able to mow his lawn, walk in the neighborhood, and can enjoy visits with his children and grandchildren (always masked) and his wife's stuffed cabbage.
University Hospitals is grateful to all individuals and organizations willing to help our caregivers, patients and community during the COVID-19 crisis. Community response and caregiver support funds have been established to support the extensive patient care, medical supplies, research and education needs.