JEFFERSONVILLE — Some people who have had birthdays during the COVID-19 pandemic may have expected they wouldn’t be able to celebrate they way they wanted.
But Sellersburg resident Robert Moss, who turned 40 this week while a patient at Clark Memorial Health, has a lot to celebrate now.
Moss was discharged Friday after a nearly three-week hospital stay for the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
One day in mid-April he was working his shift as a transporter at the hospital, where he’s worked for 14 years, when something felt wrong.
“I came to work one day and I was just kind of feeling dizzy,” he said. “I tried to do something and I started feeling weird, so I had my temperature taken and it was up.”
Based on his elevated temperature but having no other serious signs of the virus, Moss was sent to monitor symptoms from home for the next seven days. A few days later when his temperature was still up, he found himself at the emergency room.
“I just had a higher temperature, I didn’t really have the symptoms that you read about or that you’ve been seeing on TV,” he said. “I was breathing fine. I had a little cough but that was it.”
But after his hospitalization, things took a more serious turn.
“They almost had to put me on a ventilator, they were trying to keep me off as best they could,” he said. “They fortified me with oxygen, which I think that helped a lot.”
And there were times when he wasn’t sure how things would turn out. He told his brother Raymond that if something happened to him, to take his things and do what he could for his brother’s kids.
He said he had thought about the potential of getting sick, especially as a healthcare worker. But he felt like he was protected — he had read that his blood type was more resistant to the disease — and he had followed protocol with personal protective equipment, social distancing and extra care with hygiene.
“I was masked up just like everybody else,” he said. “I thought I was going to be fine. I tried to stay to myself.”
While hospitalized, Moss wasn’t able to see his family — healthcare facilities including Clark Memorial have had strict policies in place since March limiting visitors — but he was able to talk to them on the phone.
What helped him get through it was not only the care from the staff, but also the fact that they’re people he had worked with day in and day out before the virus hit.
“I love them,” he said. “They’ve been my family for 14 years. That helped a lot since I couldn’t see my family.”
As Moss was released, staff lined the hallways cheering for him. He was taken outside by wheelchair, balloons and a gift basket in his arms, where his brother waited to take him home. He was the 56th patient to have been released from Clark Memorial since the pandemic public health emergency began earlier this year.
“Today was a joyous occasion as another successful COVID-19 recovery as our patient was happily discharged,” Bridgett Hanlon, regional director for Marketing & Community Outreach with the hospital said in a statement.
“Join us in celebrating him, his family and all the healthcare professionals who worked selflessly and played a vital role in his recovery by providing advanced medical treatments and excellent patient care. Today, tomorrow and in the days to come let’s continue to encourage our entire community to unite in fighting this disease and to encourage one another, it’s needed now more than ever.”
Moss’s message to the public is to take the virus seriously and be aware that the symptoms could manifest in ways that seem like no big deal — like his fever and slight cough.
“Just hang in there, check with your doctor,” he said. “Even if you’re not showing the symptoms that are on TV, still get it checked out.”
And he’s looking forward to getting back to normal as soon as possible, even though he may at first need to have dialysis.
And the first thing he’s going to do when he gets settled in at home?
“I don’t know,” he said. “Probably get my hair cut.”