“Please call my primary care doctor.”
This is what Cherud Wilkerson, a COVID-19 patient at Bon Secours St. Mary’s Hospital, would say to his care team when they gave him updates during his hospital stay. He was referring to Aysha Habib, MD, of Bon Secours Short Pump Primary Care, who has been Cherud’s primary care provider for the past six years.
In early March when Cherud began developing flu-like symptoms, such as a fever and shortness of breath, he consulted with Dr. Habib. Initially, Cherud visited the emergency department at St. Mary’s Hospital and was later discharged. As a follow-up to that visit, Dr. Habib ordered a chest X-Ray. While it came back inconclusive, Cherud possibly had what looked like early pneumonia.
Unfortunately, from there his symptoms worsened quickly. While Cherud didn’t think he had COVID-19, Dr. Habib could tell that he was very sick and told him to go back to the emergency department.
With no time to arrange a CT scan to possibly provide additional answers, Dr. Habib called the hospital and urged them to admit Cherud right away. It was a phone call that helped save his life. Less than 24 hours later, Cherud was on a ventilator in the intensive care unit (ICU) and had tested positive for COVID-19.
For the two weeks while Cherud was in the ICU, Dr. Habib stayed in touch with Natacha, Cherud’s wife. Not only was she getting updates on his condition, Dr. Habib was treating Natacha through virtual visits, as Natacha had also contracted COVID-19.
After day seven of Cherud being on the ventilator, Dr. Habib wondered if he would make it. However, to everyone’s surprise, Cherud was finally able to breathe on his own. From there, he began his recovery journey in a step-down unit to undergo physical therapy.
During this phase of his care, anytime the nurses or doctors gave Cherud an update or wanted to change his course of treatment, he always asked them to call his primary care provider to keep her in the loop. His care team would happily do so.
After 21 days, Cherud was able to return home. However, he still had a more recovery ahead of him and remained COVID-19 positive for an additional 60 days. During that time, Cherud had virtual visits with Dr. Habib, and she continued to monitor his condition. By the time he was referred to an infectious disease specialist, Cherud had tested negative for COVID-19 and was able to virtually return to work.
“There’s still a lot we don’t know about COVID-19,” Dr. Habib shared during her reunion with Cherud at St. Mary’s Hospital (pictured above). “We all learned a lot from Cherud’s case since he was one of the early cases we saw.”
Dr. Habib also laughed as she recalled receiving the updates from his medical team.
“I knew he was feeling better when they would call and say Cherud asked us to keep you in the loop. That’s his personality, and I was so relieved to hear that he was feeling like himself again.”
Cherud will tell you that having an established primary care provider was critical in his survival of COVID-19. Thanks to the collaboration of Dr. Habib and the hospital care team, he received the right care at the exact right time, and it turned out to be one of the many factors that saved his life.
Finding the right primary care provider is an important first step to help you manage your overall health. Learn about the primary care services we offer at Bon Secours.