ER doctor, 28, shares his battle with COVID-19, hospitalization

Posted at 12:27 PM, Nov 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-18 14:47:47-05

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — David Burkard, a 28-year-old emergency room doctor at Spectrum in Grand Rapids, Michigan, is currently working on his residency, but about two weeks ago he was a patient at the same hospital, due to COVID-19.

“I woke up on a Thursday morning, just not really feeling like myself. I had a fever, cough, short of breath, fatigue, all the classic symptoms,” he explained.

But Burkard said he admits, as someone who runs five days a week with no underlying health concerns, he wasn’t real concerned about how it would affect him.

“I am a young healthy guy. Probably prior to getting it, I probably at one point said, ‘I hope I can just get it and get it over with,' because I didn’t think it would hit me,” Burkard said.

After nearly a week of not feeling well, Burkard thought he was getting better, but his symptoms quickly took a turn for the worse, he said.

He went to his own workplace, the Spectrum Health Emergency Room, due to his dropping oxygen levels, which went from the high 90s to the low 80s.

“That’s when you start to worry that like, your organs — your liver, kidney, brain, heart — start to not get enough oxygen,” he said.

After three days in the hospital and receiving supplemental oxygen, convalescent plasma and Remdesivir, Burkard turned the corner and was released to go home.

He said he now thinks this experience will make him an even more compassionate doctor once he’s allowed to return to the work that he loves.

“I think it definitely changes the way I practice medicine, going into those conversations in the future. The 75-year-old man who says goodbye to his 75-year-old wife before we put a breathing tube in, or the 50-year-old man who has to zoom with his family because he’s going downhill quickly. Those are experiences that we, as emergency medicine physicians, deal with every day. I mean, my experience was not the same, I did not have to get a breathing tube. Another takeaway is just the loneliness that I felt when I was admitted to the hospital and being able to relate to patients now on that level is something that’s important to me," Burkard said.

He is now urging everyone to take this virus seriously as we head into a holiday season where we usually gather with family and friends.

This story originally reported by Derek Francis on