In mid-March, Gail Graham started developing symptoms that included a high fever, body aches, extreme chills and what felt like a sinus infection. For two weeks, she continued to work at home with these symptoms, twice consulting a work-provided physician via telemedicine.
“It never occurred to me I had COVID-19,” Gail said.
At the urging of her son and daughter-in-law, Gail went to Franciscan Urgent Care in Chicago Heights. From there, she was taken by ambulance to the Franciscan Health Olympia Fields Emergency Department. Gail tested positive for COVID-19 there and was admitted to the hospital.
“I was so sick I didn’t know what was going on,” Gail said.
“They had just opened a COVID-19 unit, so it was new for them and for me,” she added. “It was still a learning process and those nurses were definitely on the front line. They were really busy and the people just kept coming.”
Gail’s husband, Dan, said not being able to see his wife in the hospital gave him a helpless feeling. “It was hard for me to sleep because I was wondering what was going on,” he said.
Dan’s feeling of helplessness was mitigated by Gail’s doctors and Franciscan Health vice president of operations, Jeff So.
“Jeff So was very helpful with communication and kept me updated. He and Doctors Jabari and Azad were just fantastic,” Dan explained.
As the owner of his own business, Versatile Computer Services, Dan also credits his competent staff with allowing him to focus on Gail during her illness. Established in 1985, Versatile Computer Services provides IT support to Chicago area libraries and businesses.
Dan asked a lot of questions and kept a record of everything the medical staff told him about his wife’s care. He updated Gail each day during phone calls facilitated by Franciscan Health staff.
After a few days, Gail felt well enough to talk with hospital staff and ask questions.
“The doctors went out of their way to explain my symptoms and medications,” she said. “The nurses were very nice and they would put the hospital chaplain on the phone which was really a comfort to me.”
One nurse showed Gail how to use a peak flow meter to measure the airflow out of her lungs, explaining that she needed to reach a certain mark before she could be released.
“It was like a team effort,” Dan added. “Once Gail was able to ask questions and share information with Dr. Jabari, he listened and tried to accommodate her. He always asked me how I was doing, as did Jeff So. I thought that was extraordinary of them to have that kind of compassion.”
When it came time for Gail to be released, Dr. Jabari made her part of the decision, asking if she felt well enough to go home.
“Most doctors don’t ask that. He was really understanding and made sure I was comfortable with leaving the hospital,” Gail observed. “I was thankful to God I was able to come home.”
Suffering with the coronavirus and watching helplessly from the sidelines are wrenching experiences to endure. The Grahams credit the doctors and nurses at Franciscan Health for helping them through the process with understanding and compassion.
By Maria Ramos
Vice President of Marketing and Public Relations