Doctor’s own life and death COVID struggle prompts plea to others

0
415
Dr. Jeff Foxx  sits with Daisy, the dog, at Jacobson Park earlier in July/Baptist Health
Hospital staff cheer for Jeff Foxx, MD, as he is discharged from Baptist Health Lexington on April 21/Baptist Health

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ/Baptist Health Public Affairs) – Dr. Jeff Foxx will be the first to say COVID-19 almost killed him.

And it wouldn’t be an exaggeration.

- Advertisement -

After battling the disease for a month at Baptist Health Lexington, at times in a coma and on a ventilator, he is a survivor. Now he wants to share his story to encourage the community to continue taking safety precautions that can stem the spread of the virus.

It all started with the now familiar symptoms of COVID-19.

“I was just fatigued, then I had difficulty breathing and a cough, and then I just couldn’t think clearly,” Foxx remembered. “The loss of taste and the smell was what really got me.”

The 64-year-old founder of Family Practice Associates of Lexington was admitted to the hospital on March 24 and spent a month in the Intensive Care Unit, but Foxx has little memory of that time, much of it spent on a ventilator.

“I remember going in,” he said. “But, the days on the ventilator, paralyzed and comatose, I don’t remember much about that.”

Dr. Mark Dougherty, an infectious disease specialist and hospital epidemiologist at Baptist Health Lexington, was part of the team who treated Foxx and is still waging a war against the virus. He says in March, the early days of the pandemic, experts were still learning about the virus and trying a variety of treatments to help infected patients.

“What we learned in taking care of Dr. Foxx and other patients early on is that you have to remain persistent and not give up,” Dougherty said. “Before that, two weeks was usually the cutoff in taking patients off of the ventilator at hospitals in Europe and other places. We didn’t do that.”

Among the treatments was a groundbreaking convalescent plasma therapy that allows current patients with severe COVID-19 to receive plasma from recovered patients. Ray Young of Cynthiana is the man who donated the plasma that was used to treat Foxx.

“They didn’t know if it would work, they didn’t know what the risks were, but they knew that Ray was willing,” Foxx said. “That gift was probably one of the things that saved my life.”

Since his discharge from Baptist Health Lexington on April 21 Foxx has worked hard on his recovery. He credits staff at the hospital for their care and for becoming his family while he was separated from his own.

“The isolation from my family was hard, but all the staff there treated me like I was their family – from the housekeepers to the doctors and nurses,” he said. “It was what helped me heal.”

Foxx wants others to know that COVID-19 can be successfully treated in some patients, but he doesn’t want anyone to suffer through the debilitating symptoms he’s endured. He realizes people may be tired of taking safety precautions and want to return to normal routines they had before the pandemic.

“Now is not the time to let your guard down,” Foxx urged. “The very best thing everyone can do now at this time is to stay socially distant and wear a mask. These are the steps we know can prevent the spread of this virus.”

“As the COVID-19 pandemic continues we have adjusted to new ways to reopen the economy,” said Dr. Mamata Majmundar, president of the Lexington Medical Society. “I support Dr. Dougherty and Dr. Foxx’s message. We can do our part to decrease the spread of the virus. I encourage everyone to wear a mask, practice social distancing, maintain good hand hygiene, and stay at home if you are ill.”