Ronda's Story as the First Tracheostomy Patient with COVID-19 | MedStar Health

First COVID-19 Tracheostomy Treatment Patient at MedStar Health Shares Her Story

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Developing a high fever and experiencing an increase in blood pressure is scary for anyone. Feeling the effects of these symptoms during a global pandemic can be even more frightening.

When Ronda Harris Enoch, a 70-year-old asthma-sufferer, began to exhibit these symptoms last March, she hoped it was just seasonal allergies, but didn’t want to leave her health to chance. Ronda called for an ambulance and her family immediately saw the changes COVID-19 has necessitated in health care—everyone with masks, keeping safe distances, and they couldn’t join her due to the hospital’s new visitor policy.

Ronda lived in the area for over 50 years, yet never stepped foot in MedStar Georgetown University Hospital. On that fateful day, she was given a choice between local hospitals and ultimately chose to be treated at MedStar Georgetown.

“Why I picked that to this day I have no idea, but I’m so thankful I did,” says Ronda.

With her condition worsening upon admittance to the hospital, Ronda quickly required intubation through a ventilator in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU.) Our medical associates on the ICU floor began regular check-in calls with her children, William and Kimberly Harris, to provide continual updates. Over the course of several weeks, each time Ronda was removed from the ventilator, a routine preventative measure to minimize the risk of long-term ventilator use, she would go into cardiac arrest requiring CPR. Once revived, she had to be intubated again and the cycle continued three times. “We were losing hope that she would get better,” says Kimberly.

The ICU team contacted Rachel Adams, MD, chief of palliative care at MedStar Georgetown, to guide the family with treatment options. Fortunately, Dr. Adams and the team of physicians decided to perform a tracheostomy to permanently remove the ventilator. As part of the COVID-19 treatment plan, this was the first to be performed across the MedStar Health system. “Once she got the trach, everything started to turn around really well, and it wasn’t too much longer after that she left the ICU,” William states. Ronda continued to steadily improve, thanks to her amazing care team.

“This was a patient who faced an uncertain future and recovered,” says Dr. Adams. Ronda’s children Kimberly and William are especially grateful for the medical staff’s patience and excellent medical care.

“It is a sobering reality watching someone you love battle a virus like COVID-19. It was incredibly difficult not being able to see your loved one in their most vulnerable state and thinking you may not get to say goodbye in person. I want the people of MedStar Georgetown to know how grateful we are to them for comforting us in such a frightening time and helping to bring our mother home safe and well,” says William.

Ronda is now home and fully recovered after her hospital and short rehab stay. “Thank you for saving my life and for taking good care of me,” she says.

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