HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH)– Throughout this pandemic, we’ve been focused on numbers of those who have Covid-19 and those who have died. Today we got to see a coronavirus survivor who came close to death but fought hard return home to his family.
Until just over four weeks ago, retired police officer Jay Bialakowski, 54, was working as a security guard at Hartford Hospital. Then, a fever overcame him at home and he couldn’t breathe.
“I remember going to the hospital, going into the ER, and that’s pretty much all I remember for the next three weeks,” said Bialakowski.
“He was one of the sickest patients. He was one of the first to come in,” said Dr. Megan Panico, Pulmonary Medicine Medical Director, Hartford HealthCare.
“By the time we reached the end of April, on the 30th of March, he actually had to be paralyzed. We had to give him medicine to completely paralyze him so he could not move. None of the muscles in his body consumed any oxygen at all, just so we could maintain his oxygen level,” said Dr. Sam Pope, Intensive Care Unit Director, Hartford HealthCare.
Jay somehow made it through and then went to Gaylord to learn to walk again, just over a week ago.
“All I wanted to do was go home to my wife and daughter, but I know I had to fight through this and get my body back. And I said ‘OK let’s do it.’ The team here is absolutely amazing. They push you, and push you, and push you and I said ‘give me more,’ that is true,” said Bialakowski.
“Honestly, you have changed the game for all of us. You’ve given us hope and I think that we now know people can get better, and I think that’s going to change that for us. And I’m looking forward to seeing you on the outside of this with no mask,” said Panico.
“I’m so so eternally grateful for everything. You’ve done amazing. You have earned everything, where you are right now,” said Katie Zimmerli, Gaylord Hospital Occupational Therapist.
To this point, Hartford HealthCare has discharged 450 patients who had Covid-19, not all as sick as Jay.
He was released from Gaylord and was reunited with his family Saturday morning.
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