April 16, 2020

Kaiser Permanente member Stacy Allegro said that COVID-19 was the worst sickness she has ever experienced—and she survived endometrial cancer.

What started as a tickle in her throat turned into a bad cough and fever spikes of over 101 degrees, landing Allegro, 58, in the hospital for 7 days.

“I wasn’t prepared for the complete knockdown this virus dealt,” Allegro said, adding that she works as a Pilates instructor and is generally a healthy person. “I’ve never had to recover from anything like this.”

A 103.7 Fever

She said she believes she contracted the novel coronavirus from her husband, who became mildly sick with COVID-19 symptoms after a trip to Morocco. Eighteen days after he’d returned home, Allegro was admitted to the Kaiser Permanente San Rafael Hospital on March 27. She’d tried to treat her symptoms at home for about 9 days, under the supervision of her doctor.

“The morning my husband took me to the ER I had a delirious fever of 103.7,” she said. “One moment my husband was driving me to the emergency room, and the next thing I knew I was in an isolated room, hooked up to IVs.”

Allegro said the nights were especially hard — that’s when being isolated in a positive airflow room, without her family, made some of her worst fears come out.

“The most difficult part has been the isolation,” Allegro said. “I’m really close to my family, my husband, and my dog. When one of us is in a crisis, we’re there for each other. To not have them able to visit was agony.”

Small Gifts

Allegro said the nurses, doctors, and other hospital staff members checked on her periodically throughout the day and night.

“I drew all my strength from my care team,” Allegro said. “I wouldn’t have made it without them. I thought, ‘If they can be here, saving my life while jeopardizing their health and the lives of their families, I have to keep fighting for mine.’”

Allegro’s primary care physician, Orna Hananel, MD, called her several times a day and night to check in on her because she couldn’t visit her in person. She asked Allegro if she needed anything and brought her small gifts, such as new undershirts, nail clippers, and gum.“I drew all my strength from my care team.”

“Thank God Stacy did not need any respiratory support,” Dr. Hananel said. “We tried to make her feel good and supported as much as we could. Every day, I would stop by a store to pick something up for her and leave it with the hospital’s security and nurses, who would deliver it to her. And if I could not find what she was asking for, I called everyone I knew to go get it ASAP, and they sure did; they delivered!”

Medical social worker Susan Loskutoff provided Allegro with new pairs of sweats and socks. Nurse Mary McKeown Provines went out at 9 p.m. to get Allegro toiletries and T-shirts she needed because of her intense night sweats.

Meatloaf and Phone Calls

Allegro also praised the hospital’s food service team. Although she didn’t have an appetite much of her time at the hospital, the nutritional service team made sure the food trays they sent her included her favorite foods, such as meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and grapes.

“They got to know me and what comfort foods I like,” Allegro said. “That made me feel special, like I wasn’t just a number.”

Allegro is now recovering at her family home in Glen Ellen, feeling better as each day passes. She continues to receive several phone calls a day from different Kaiser Permanente departments to check on her physical and emotional health.

Before her release from the hospital, she created a poster, thanking everyone on her Kaiser Permanente care team. “There are not enough words to express my gratitude for all of you!” she wrote. “You made me feel like family at a time when my own family could not be with me. Each one of you deserves a Purple Heart.”

This story originally appeared in Inside KP