Trading Places: Good Samaritan physician’s firsthand COVID-19 experience

Story 3 2 Edward PyunEdward Pyun, MD, Trauma Medical Director for Good Samaritan Medical Center, was used to dealing with medical emergencies on a daily basis. But when he contracted COVID-19 last July, Dr. Pyun had the unique opportunity to experience Good Samaritan Medical Center from a different perspective.

An Unpredictable Virus
Dr. Pyun and his family began feeling ill soon after one of his children’s friends was diagnosed with the virus. Dr. Pyun began coughing and a short time later developed a fever. He confirmed he had a COVID-19 diagnosis by driving through one of SCL Health’s COVID-19 testing sites.

Dr. Pyun quarantined at home and thought it would resolve soon. But a week later, Dr. Pyun’s health took a turn. Along with the fever, he developed shaking chills, extreme exhaustion, difficulty eating and sleeping and—most concerning—problems breathing. At age 50 and in fairly good health before the virus, his condition was a surprise.

“I had a hard time getting air. It felt like I was dry drowning,” he recalls. Dr. Pyun called his primary care physician, who directed him to go the emergency department immediately. Soon, Dr. Pyun walked through the doors of Good Samaritan Medical Center—this time as a patient.

‘Expert Care
Emergency department staff evaluated Dr. Pyun and found he had low oxygen levels. Dr. Pyun was admitted to Good Samaritan Medical Center and moved to a room on a special floor designated early in the pandemic solely for COVID-19 patients.

“It was difficult being in the hospital, especially in isolation due to the virus. I couldn’t see my family and had little energy to communicate using technology,” Dr. Pyun says. “The virus had an emotional and mental impact, not just a physical one. It’s the sickest I’ve ever been.”

Dr. Pyun was put on oxygen and later given steroid medication and remdesivir—an FDA-approved drug thought to lessen the symptoms of COVID-19.

“My progress was slow but I was improving with the support of therapies. I actively engaged in my treatment and trusted others to help me,” he recalls.

Importance of Self-Healing
Although Dr. Pyun was physically weak, he knew it was important to maintain as much strength as possible to help his body heal. As soon as he started feeling better, he used his energy to move around his hospital room as much as possible. He sat in a chair for his meals. And he made efforts to eat his meals.

After six days at Good Samaritan Medical Center, Dr. Pyun was well enough to continue recovering at home. It wasn’t until months later that he finally regained his full energy and strength. His sense of smell came back in December.

“Being a patient at Good Samaritan was a unique perspective. Everyone was doing their best in such difficult circumstances,” Dr. Pyun says. “The nurses, especially, worked through such stressful and scary times. I’m thankful for their care.”

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