COVID-19 survivor released from Denver hospital discusses experience


DENVER (KDVR) – Presbyterian St. Luke’s Medical Center discharged its first adult COVID-19 patient after he received nine days of treatment in the hospital.

“I’m still tired, and my calves still hurt when I am walking, when I am sitting, but I feel much better,” said 61-year-old Kao Lee.

Lee, who has diabetes as an underlying condition, said he went to the emergency room when his persistent fever was not improving. He also suffered from a cough, sore throat, diarrhea and body aches.

“When I was in the hospital, I was scared. I think I might – maybe I might – die and have no time to come home, say goodbye to my kids, my family and other people in Colorado,” he said.

But a nurse told the FOX31 Problem Solvers Lee’s condition never worsened while he was hospitalized. He never required a ventilator, said Maggie Bruskewitz. 

“It was kind of a steady uphill in his progression to get better, so that was awesome,” said Bruskewitz, “and I think that gave him hope that he was on the road to recovery.”

Bruskewitz said the medical staff gave Lee antibiotics to fend off the possibility of bacterial pneumonia. 

According to a hospital spokesperson, Lee received the drug hydroxychloroquine, one of the medications touted by President Donald Trump as a possible “game-changer” in the fight against COVID-19. Lee’s treatment also included constant monitoring and supplementary oxygen.

“It is a scary, scary thing to be dealing with, so we were constantly checking in with him to see how he was feeling mentally,” Bruskewitz said.

“The hospital, the nurse, the doctor – I think they tried to do everything to help me,” said Lee, “I just want everybody to know that coronavirus hits you. It’s very hard — very scary. But I’m glad God still give me a life and I still have a chance to be home with the family, and I’m so glad.”

Lee said he has worked for Presbyterian St. Luke’s Medical Center, in the nutrition services department, for 36 years.

When he left the hospital Wednesday, a couple dozen staff members stood in the lobby, cheering.

“I feel good when I’m home with the family,” said Lee, “They can see me. I can see them. I still have time to be with them.”

Lee is currently isolating himself at home. His daughter, Sunshine Lee, said she has been unable to give her father a hug, but she is looking forward that day.

“I think it’s going to be a really good day for all of us to hang out again – for our family, for all our friends and families to be able to come back in this home and see my dad,” she said.

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