I Almost Died From COVID. A Medical Advocate Saved My Life.
A few weeks ago, driving home to North Carolina from Washington, DC, I was forced to pull off the side of the road. I had been feeling sick the week before, but out of nowhere, my condition advanced rapidly. Driving was the last thing I should be doing.
Just outside of North Carolina, I checked into a hotel. After making a few calls and leaving voicemails for a friend, I tried to sleep. The friend called back and said to get to a hospital or Urgent Care immediately. He worked with “COVID-19” physicians, hospitals, and state governments, providing them with testing kits and masks. I asked if he really thought I had COVID-19. His response was to “shut up and get to an Urgent Care.”
I took his advice and after a half-hour wait, they took me back, ran tests, then came back 15 minutes later to inform me that I had the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. They gave me an inhaler and sent me on my way.
Back at the hotel, things went from bad to worse. I couldn’t breathe. I called my friend back. He told me to try and get down to Chapel Hill to either the hospital at Duke or UNC, which would be ideal due to their extensive work treating COVID patients.
Off I went. Along the way, another friend called me, Steven E. Greer, MD, a client who just happened to be a doctor. After giving him a status report on symptoms, he started texting me medications he believed I needed.
I arrived at the Duke emergency room and after a five-minute wait, they took me back, where I was tested again for COVID. Sure enough, I tested positive and now had pneumonia. Despite that, three hours later, they sent me home without medications or treatment.
I felt something was wrong. I wasn’t a doctor and had no idea what the threshold was to determine intake. I just knew I had to find my way to a hotel.
I checked in and closed my eyes – I didn’t have the energy to get on the computer or turn on the television. I felt delirious.
Coughing continuously and struggling to catch a breath, I believed I was about to die and wasn’t able to think clearly enough to know what to do. After all, I had just been sent home from the hospital. I felt hopeless.
Dr. Greer called again to check-in. I told him my status, that I felt worse, and that the ER staff sent me on my way despite my pneumonia and the positive test. He asked if they gave me any antibodies or steroids or medications of any sort and I said no. He wanted to know my exact symptoms and said he would make a few calls.
A few hours later, I received a call from the Chief Medica Officer of Duke Medical Center. Apparently, Dr. Greer found him and spoke with him at length, questioning why I had been released with pneumonia and COVID-19 without receiving treatment, such as antiviral or antibody drugs. Greer had briefed him about my inability to catch a breath and that I was at a cheap hotel alone thinking I was about to die.
The Chief Medical Officer asked me about my symptoms and said to stand-by. He was going to talk to his physicians in the ER who treated me. An hour later, he called back and asked if I could find a way back to the ER. I found a Lyft driver willing to take me and was promptly admitted to the ICU.
Once at the ER, they rushed me up to the new COVID Unit where I received the treatment I needed. I spent 8-days there, treated with Remdesivir and taking part in two trial studies, including a new monoclonal antibody drug. The doctors and nurses were incredible in their care and treatment. I could breathe again.
Reports of Americans turned away by hospitals even if they are symptomatic with the virus and pneumonia is tragic. These drugs have proven to be effective in clinical trials and real-life, but they are sometimes withheld from regular Americans who aren’t VIPs. Highly touted monoclonal antibody therapies sit unused in hospitals. Doses of monoclonal antibodies—Covid-19 therapies authorized for emergency use last month—are sitting unused in hospital pharmacies.
Making this worse is that, when a patient is denied admission, they are not prescribed medications at all. They have not been prescribed hydroxychloroquine, zinc, or even antibiotics for pneumonia.
Thank God for Dr. Greer. Not only is he my friend and client, but he also served as my “Medical Advocate.” Most patients don’t have one. His phone call likely saved my life.
Trevor FitzGibbon is a political consultant who works with human rights and with whistleblower clients.