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Hospital’s longest COVID ICU patient recovers at home

As a person who has developed severe complications with COVID, Winston Cogill was discharged from Groote Schuur Hospital (GSH) in March 2021 and is still dependent on oxygen for severe difficulties with breathing. This is after he spent 122 days (about four months) in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) making him the longest surviving COVID ICU patient admitted at the hospital.

Winston, a 54-year-old from Diep River, is a Data Analyst working for the Western Cape Government. “I had flu-like symptoms, and I was admitted to Victoria Hospital in October 2020. Two days later, I was transferred to Groote Schuur Hospital. I arrived and was put on the high-flow [nasal oxygen] machine. A few days later, I was sent to the ICU where I spent 122 days. Most of these days was spent on a ventilator,” is how Winston recalls his journey at the hospital.

“Emotionally it was very tough, and it still is. It was very frustrating spending such a long time in hospital. Not seeing my wife and my 21-year-old daughter and the rest of my family, I’m one of eight siblings. I could not speak but the nurses would communicate with my family through video calls. The patience of the staff at the hospital is just amazing. Some nurses would just come hold my hand and sing choruses to me. Every day, the staff would brush my teeth. When I reached 100 days in ICU, I even got a haircut,” is how Winston reflects on some experiences while in the hospital.

Winston is very thankful to staff at GSH. “I was wheeled out of the hospital on the 11th off March to go home. How I made it only God knows. Twice my wife was called in by the doctors for her to come and say her final goodbyes. But here I am still alive. This is only God and the wonderful staff at Groote Schuur Hospital who went beyond the call of duty to help me. The rest of the world should come to the hospital to see how real ICU care is done.”

Professor Ivan Joubert was one of the doctors who treated Winston at the hospital.” “Winston will always stand out clearly in the minds of those of us who looked after him. He was desperately ill with COVID and there [were] many times we didn’t think he’d survive. After four months in ICU, we all got to know him well – no doubt he us too! We used to tease him about becoming an honorary member of staff. The whole team feels tremendous satisfaction knowing that he’s doing so well.”

“Covid-19 is real, and I would not wish it on anyone. If you value life, family and colleagues then please follow the safety and preventive protocols. The decisions you make are bigger than just us, they affect society. So, add value to society by protecting yourself against the coronavirus.”

Keeping safe during the Third Wave

We are currently during an established Third Wave of Covid-19 infections. The best way we can protect each other is to avoid social gatherings outside our immediate home environment and protect our ‘bubble’. This is your ‘safe space’.Thus, let’s keep this behavior going for the next few weeks, to break the chain of transmission and flatten the curve.

We can avoid a transmission chain from setting in by protecting our air space.

Avoid all large gatherings.
Avoid any social gatherings where possible.
If you need to go out to do activities such as shopping, always wear your mask and keep it short.
If you must meet, keep it outdoors, small, and short.
When indoors, dress warmly and ensure the windows are open so your space is well ventilated with fresh air.
If sick, stay home

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