FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – An otherwise healthy 60-year-old man returned home to Howe, Indiana, after he spent 5 months hospitalized at Parkview Regional Medical Center battling COVID-19. His secret weapon? Faith and family.
Parkview staff were so moved by the resilience of Duane Schwartz that they arranged a socially distant reunion at the Parkview Education Center on Thursday afternoon.
Schwartz developed COVID-19 symptoms in late August of 2020. He was admitted to Parkview LaGrange Hospital, but quickly deteriorated and was transferred to Parkview Regional Medical Center. Doctors quickly realized that he needed to be placed on a ventilator and, shortly after, on extracorporeal membrane oxygenation or ECMO. This is a complex device that serves as an external lung.
According to doctors, Schwartz was on ECMO for 6 and a half weeks, which is an unusually long time. Due to the seriousness of his case, they weren’t sure if he was going to make it. Attending physician in Critical Care Medicine, Dr. Hariom Joshi, said, “We didn’t know like, at that point of time, the prognosis we were just saying it’s 50-50.”
During his time in the hospital, Schwartz’s was so ill that he had to be heavily sedated. It took a toll on his body and mind. As a result, he lost 50 pounds of muscle mass. He doesn’t remember much of the experience, except feeling the warmth and support of his family, “The support they gave me, the encouragement they gave me, they never stopped believing…I drew strength from them.” He also said that he felt close to his faith.
Schwartz’s eldest daughter, Erin Bell, traveled back and forth from Florida, where she lives, to be with her father throughout his illness. When asked what kept her going she repeated what her father said, “Faith and family for sure. You know just to hope.”
Schwartz and his family said they are forever grateful to the staff at Parkview Regional Medical Center for not giving up on him during his hospitalization. He also gives thanks to the staff at Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital in Grand Rapids, Michigan who continues to help him on his path back to full health and strength.