12 News Investigates: A Brookhaven man’s long battle with COVID-19

12 News Investigates

JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – A Brookhaven man has been in the hospital for about 230 days battling COVID-19 with his wife by his side.

Joey Wall, 61, was working as a mail carrier and was considered healthy. However, last summer coronavirus struck his family. Joey’s wife, Lou Ann, said they were always careful and wearing masks, but Joey’s symptoms progressed to the point he needed to go to the hospital.

Lou Ann had COVID-19, too. She wasn’t allowed to go to the hospital with him, so she dropped him off at King’s Daughter Medical Center, and it was worse than she expected.

“When I had been fever free for three days, I was able to go and see him. He had gone from 240 to 318 pounds with all the extra fluid on his body, sedated and paralyzed,” she said.

On September 23, he was airlifted to Baptist and was told he may not survive the flight, but the family took a chance.

“He stayed in ICU from September 23 to November 13, and during that time, we thought he was going to die many times. When he did wake up in ICU and they got him off sedation, he couldn’t move.”

He then moved to long term acute care and then to Franklin County to be closer to home. He was off the ventilator for a week, but Joey was back at Baptist Memorial on January 11 after problems following surgery. He’s been at the Baptist ever since.

Dr. Timothy Cannon, Physician of Pulmonary Care at Baptist, said they’ve had 3,000 patients admitted for COVID-19. At least 300 have been in the ICU, and of those, 250 have been on ventilators. Those on ventilators typically stay in the hospital for six weeks to four months.

“About 40 percent will never regain the ability to regain their abilities of daily living without assistance. Sixty percent with aggressive rehab can learn to ambulate and take care of themselves on a daily basis,” said Dr. Cannon.

One of Dr. Cannon’s first patients was on a ventilator for three months, and she caught COVID-19 through a group meeting at her church. She is now able to walk.

In regards to Joey’s case, Dr. Cannon said, “He’s stabilized from a human dynamics standpoint and basically has been breathing spontaneously without the assistance of the ventilator. If given time and continue physical therapy, he could survive this.”

Joey has been transferred to the Post Acute Medical Hospital in Hammond, Louisiana, with signs of improvement. His chest tube has been removed, he has signs of movement and he is more alert.

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