Getting Through COVID-19 With the Help of the Visiting Nurse Association of the Treasure Coast

Photo of subject Joanne Chung sitting and smiling.

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This past year, Joanne Jung’s favorite holiday, Christmas, never arrived. “I had company from out of state the week before Christmas and their parting gift to me was COVID. They left on the 21st, and the 22nd of December I got sick, really sick,” recalls the retired Vero Beach resident.

Joanne went to urgent care where she had to wait a few hours to get a COVID test; it was negative. She returned the next week, and they gave her medication, but it didn’t work. She returned a third time, and she was diagnosed with sinusitis, but as someone who had experienced more than her fair share of sinus issues throughout her life, she did not believe she had it and insisted on another COVID-19 test. “They took the COVID test on a Friday, and they called me on Saturday and said, “You’ve got COVID, and you’re really sick, and you need to go to the hospital. So, I waited until Sunday morning, and I called a couple of my friends from my church who are nurses, and they said for me to call 911. So, I called 911 for the first time in my life,” she says.

Joanne spent five long days in the hospital. “I was so horribly congested, the cough was continual, I had high blood pressure, and if I put anything in my mouth I threw it up, so I did not eat,” she says. And the nurses wouldn’t give her an IV because she has only one kidney and they were afraid to overwork it. “After a week, my daughter wanted to take me home,” says Joanne, who also wanted to leave the hospital.

Joanne’s blood pressure had stabilized, and her doctor approved the discharge, contingent upon home health. Joanne chose the Visiting Nurse Association of the Treasure Coast (VNA).

Joanne went home with her daughter and stayed in her grandson’s room for four weeks. The VNA team of clinicians assigned to her started right away. She had one nurse who checked her vitals and an occupational therapist who taught her exercises. “She helped strengthen me because for the first two weeks I didn’t get out of bed except to go to the bathroom; the nurse was trying to get me to walk,” she says. “They were all amazing, they truly were. I could not say enough good things about the VNA nurses because they were all very friendly, all very respectful, and they treated me like a human being, which in healthcare today is severely lacking, unfortunately.”

But Joanne admits she had a favorite clinician. “There was one in particular who I absolutely loved. She was a sweetheart,” says Joanne. This clinician, Irene Ciceron, OTA, feels likewise. “Joanne was such a pleasure to work with, very motivated and always did her best with therapy,” she says.

Joanne received home health care for the full month she was at her daughter’s and then two weeks after she returned to her own home. “They visited a couple of times a week and stayed as long as I needed them to…which was fantastic because I felt like there was somebody out there from the medical community that actually cared about my well-being. I’m not usually a needy person, I’ve been on my own an awful lot. I’m very self-sufficient and I like to think I’m a very strong woman after all I’ve been through, but this brought me to my knees. I’ve never been so sick, and it was frightening…they were very, very kind,” says Joanne. “When you have somebody come to your home, it’s scary with everything that you’re going through, and it’s just very comforting to know that there’s somebody out there who tries to understand as much as possible and just be there to hold your hand and listen. That’s all you need, because everything else, you just kind of have to trust the providers and then just get through it.

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