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Lifesaving COVID-19 treatment leads to reunion with a patient and her care team

Lifesaving COVID-19 treatment leads to reunion with a patient and her care team
At the height of the pandemic, many patients required care in the intensive care unit (ICU). For the patients undergoing treatment and for their care givers, this was a physically and emotionally taxing time.

During this time, Victoria Famuyide, DO, MBA, a physician with pulmonary critical care, was responsible for keeping patients and families informed on their care options. They could choose between comfort care and treatment in the ICU, but there were many risks involved with ICU care.

“It was the reality of how things are and that was a very tough talk to have with patients and their families,” said Dr. Famuyide. “I had six deaths in one week. I had to tell myself I was a good doctor because it was taking such a toll on my mental health.”

In June of 2021, Jaci West was diagnosed with COVID-19. “I thought I had the flu,” said West. It didn’t feel like COVID because I didn’t have symptoms like everyone else. I wasn’t having respiratory issues.” As a respiratory therapist herself, West felt confident her issues were not COVID. But after another respiratory therapist assessed her condition, the illness progressed. Her oxygen kept dropping and she was intubated in the ICU where she suffered a heart attack and blood clotting. “I don’t remember it,” said West. “I woke up two weeks later.”

After her time in the ICU, she was admitted to Riverside inpatient rehab for one week. She then participated in outpatient physical and occupational therapy at Carle Hoopeston at Charlotte Ann Russell for four months, helping West with exercises and treatment. “While I’m not back to 100 percent, I’m not afraid for my life anymore,” said West.

The experience was eye opening and left a lasting impact on how West served her own patients. When West eventually went back to work, she did so on oxygen. And after her experiences in the Carle ICU she knew she wanted to be part of a care team that offered that level of individualized and compassionate care. She joined the Carle Health team in 2022. “I needed to be up and moving to keep up my endurance,” said West. “I wanted to work with the people who saved my life.”

At Carle, West is able to relate to her patients because she knows where they are coming from. “I can relate to them because I’ve been there,” said West. “I push my COVID patients because I know if you push yourself you can reach your goals.”

During Pulmonary Rehab Week in March, Dr. Famuyide took her pulmonary team, including West, out to dinner to celebrate their work during the pandemic. “We were short staffed, and everyone had to cover locations throughout the system while managing new policies and safety precautions, so this was a way to thank the team for their work,” said Dr. Famuyide.

At this dinner, the conversation turned to COVID-19, and West was identified as someone who had received care, and Dr. Famuyide began asking who West is and where she was cared for.

“I was so happy to see her,” said Dr. Famuyide. “When patients leave our care or are transferred, we don’t always know what happens to them.”

Dr. Famuyide feels that West’s story is a source of hope. “I took her picture and sent it to the ICU staff who were in the thick of it with COVID, and explained what happened,” said Dr. Famuyide. “The ICU nurses were so happy. It was an emotional night.”

“I feel lucky to work for the organization,” said West. “I couldn’t ask for a better place to be.”

“Even though I didn’t directly oversee her care, I was still so happy,” said Dr. Famuyide. “Her recovery is nothing short of a miracle.”

For more information on COVID-19 resources, visit

Categories: Culture of Quality

Tags: careers, COVID-19, culture, Respiratory, reunion, therapy