Beth Howard
September 3, 2020
Experts say hospital ICU stays, often faced alone, bring mental health woes to older patients in particular

For Charlene Fugate, 70, of Indianapolis, the trouble started in March with a persistent respiratory infection that required two courses of antibiotics plus an inhaler to help her breathe. After several days, she realized she “was having a harder and harder time” holding her breath for the 10 seconds it took for the steroids to reach her lungs. By the time her husband took her to IU (Indiana University) Health West Hospital, she was also experiencing headaches, fever and coughing.
Within 21/2 to three hours of walking into the ER, Fugate was on a ventilator, with an IV, feeding tube and catheter, and was being transferred to the intensive care unit (ICU) at IU Health Methodist Hospital with a diagnosis of COVID-19. She spent three days in the ICU and another four days in a different unit in the hospital before going home. Yet three months later, her recovery is still a work in progress.

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