Miracles happen. Just ask Navy Veteran Jamal Thomas, 39, who came to the Emergency Department at the Baltimore VA Medical Center with flu-like symptoms. Thomas never expected to be diagnosed with coronavirus, but within a short time of his arrival to the facility, he quickly became extremely sick.
More than a month later, Thomas beat the odds and beat the coronavirus, getting well enough to head home.
“I feel great. I don’t remember much of the last month. My nurses told me it was touch and go for a while. I didn’t know where I was or how I got here.”
His body was shutting down
Clinicians took swift action to care for Thomas, whose body was quickly shutting down.
“Our focus was on learning all we could about this virus. Providing safe, quality and compassionate care played an important role in the early steps taken to care for Mr. Thomas,” said Dr. Adam M. Robinson, Jr., VA Maryland Health Care System director.
During that month, teams of clinicians worked together to save his life.
“It took a lot of specialists,” said Dr. Stephen Musisi, chief hospitalist. “The coronavirus attacks all body systems at the same time. Specialists for every system — the infection control folks, the nephrologists, the cardiac team. Every specialty played a role in providing care.”
Unbeknownst to Thomas, his family and friends added him to prayer circles and chains. He later learned that his former shipmates, with whom he has kept up with since his 2006 discharge, spread the word to others who served with him and they had formed prayer circles on his behalf. “There were a lot of people praying for me in that time”
“I just want to grab hold of my kids.”
Led by Meshondra Collins, nurse manager, a small army of nurses provided around-the-clock care for Thomas as he made a slow recovery to being well enough to go home.
“This is the result of dedicated nursing and teamwork,” she said. Collins, also a Navy Veteran and reservist, added, “I’m just so proud of the care we provided that got Mr. Thomas to the point where he is well enough to go home.”
Thomas praised the nurses who provided care.
“All my nurses were great. Every day, they lifted me up with a positive attitude. Every day, when they came into my room, they came in with a smile.”
For Thomas, the biggest miracle of all is yet to come. After a two-week quarantine once he’s home, he will be able to finally hug his children.
“I will never take life for granted again. I just want to grab hold of my kids and tell them I love them.”
Rosalia Scalia is a public affairs specialist for the VA Maryland Health Care System.