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COVID-19 survivor shares his experience, encourages all to get vaccinated

Jerry Weldy is pictured here with part of the team who cared for him during his 8-day hospitalization.

Franklin resident Jerry Weldy wants to make a couple things clear about COVID-19: if you are one of the unlucky ones, the recovery can take longer than the recovery from a heart attack; and masks and social distancing protections work to keep the uninfected safe from the virus.

Weldy knows both these things from experience, unfortunately. In early November, he started to come down with what he thought and hoped was just a “fall cold.” Within the span of a weekend, his fever and chest pain became so alarming, he dialed 911 and was taken to the New Ulm Medical Center (NUMC) Emergency Room, where he tested positive for COVID-19.

“They sent me home to save resources in the hospital for those who were sicker than me,” Weldy said. His son, Scott, came down from the metro area that evening, and agreed to stay at Weldy’s house with him. “I don’t remember hardly anything about that night.”

From that Monday night to the next Saturday, Scott kept an eye on his dad, each staying on separate floors of the house and using separate bathrooms. Scott wore a mask and always kept a distance of six to eight feet from his dad. He was diligent about washing and sanitizing his hands. Scott never tested positive for COVID.

By the following Saturday, Weldy’s fever and pain were so great that Scott brought him back to NUMC. He was admitted to the hospital and there he stayed in one of their negative pressure rooms for eight days.

Weldy said the care at NUMC was extraordinary, not only from the care aspect but also from a standpoint of his caregivers maintaining a positive attitude.

“I was impressed with how well everybody took the stress,” Weldy said of the staff at NUMC. “They always seemed to be in a good frame of mind and joking around.”

Weldy notes that he had a heart attack in 2019 and he was “out of the woods” and in recovery in less than four hours. With COVID-19, it took almost two months before he started to feel himself again.

He credits his family – his son and four daughters – for taking such good care of him during that time, coming to stay with him at his house and one daughter hosting him at her house for a week in late December. “That was the week that really turned me around as I finally got my appetite back,” Weldy said.

Weldy was so grateful for his care at NUMC that he donated $2,000 through the NUMC Foundation. He asked for $500 of it to go toward treats for the staff and the other $1,500 will go to the Prevention and Wellness Fund.

“The Prevention and Wellness Fund was started last year as donations began pouring in from grateful residents and patients across the region, supporting the health care staff through this challenging pandemic period,” said NUMC Foundation Executive Director Melissa Dreckman. The fund is meant to take care of the caregivers at NUMC so they can take care of the community.

“The priorities that have been identified for this fund are an outdoor walking path, a relaxation room, and a gym space,” Dreckman said. All three projects are in development.

Those wishing to donate to the Prevention and Wellness Fund can send a check to the NUMC Foundation and note that it is for this fund, or they can go to allinahealth.org/ numcfoundation, click on the “Donate Now” button and select “Prevention and Wellness.” Donors have the option of making it a one-time or recurring donation.

Weldy said he will get the COVID-19 vaccination as soon as he is able and encourages everyone to do the same.

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