Woman beats COVID-19 after a month on a ventilator

Posted at 8:41 PM, May 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-19 20:41:43-04

INDIANAPOLIS — This day has been a long time coming. Arlonda Johnson Dickerson, 47, has been in the hospital fighting for her life. Now, she gets to be reunited with her family once again.

It was a send off two months in the making. Cries of relief as she embraces her husband for the first time in two months.

"I was praying constantly and asking God to help me get through this," Dickerson said.

He answered her prayers. Admitted to Ascension St. Vincent Seton Specialty Hospital on March 31, she spent 35 days on a ventilator.

"It was scary realizing you had something that everyone didn't know anything about," Dickerson said.

"It's been interesting for me because I think in my medical career this is the first time I say 'I don't know' as much as I do," Dr. Richard Cardillo, medical director at Ascension St. Vincent Seton Specialty Hospital, said.

Cardillo said the COVID-19 patients who need a ventilator develop an inflammatory condition in the lung. They don't have the oxygen or energy to breathe on their own.

"It just takes a long time to heal," Cardillo said. "And our problem is there's very little we can do to accelerate the process."

"You never realize something you take for granted because I couldn't walk," Dickerson said.

Dickerson said she doesn't remember much. But it was very difficult being away from her family.

"We have an iPad that we take into the room and they can FaceTime with them," Angel Higgison, a nurse at the hospital, said. "Whether they're intubated and can't talk or not it's good to hear the family's voice."

"If I wasn't able to talk to them it would be such a scary — it was already a scary situation — I think it would've been worse," Dickerson said.

Higginson said she was ecstatic Dickerson was able to make it off the ventilator, but is also sad for those who couldn't and had to say goodbye away from their loved ones.

"It's hard. I cry for the families," Higginson said. "I cry with the families. It's hard."

Dickerson, saying her final farewell and thanking the healthcare workers who saved her life.

"I really appreciate everything you all have done for me," she said.