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COVID-19 survivor speaks about his experience with the deadly illness

– A Gold Hill man says he contracted coronavirus after picking up his step-father-in-law from Avamere Three Fountains in Medford.

Joel Clark’s 90-year-old step-father-in-law Melvin Olson, who lives in Prineville, Oregon was in a car accident on Highway 62 near Prospect. He was transported to Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center Emergency where he learned that he had two fractured ribs and a fractured wrist. The doctors were concerned that once released from the hospital he would need rehab for his ribs in order to avoid pneumonia.

Three days later, Clark was informed that two staff at Avamere had tested positive for COVID-19, and as a result Melvin would be “isolated” and tested for COVID-19 and would keep family informed if the test was positive.

Clark says he was given no additional information related to COVID-19 by Avamere during Olson’s stay.

On November 2, Avamere contacted Clark for Olson’s pick-up scheduled for November 5. Clark said no mention of COVID was made.

“We assumed when he was released that we didn’t have to worry about masks and we spent quite a bit of time with him,” said Clark. A short time later, he came down with the virus, his first symptom being a fever.

Clark spent ten days at Providence Medford Medical Center — three of them in the Intensive Care Unit — and he does not think he would be alive without the efforts of the medical staff. He said, “they have converted whole hallways to be used for COVID patients.”

Clark was able to return home in time for Thanksgiving. He and Olson are now recovering from from their illness.

During his stay at Providence, Clark says because he was so well taken care of in the hospital, his faith in the community has been restored. He emphasized his gratitude for Providence staff calling them “real angels”.

Though he says he feels himself improving, Clark is using an oxygen source to assist with breathing. He said severe pneumonia can be caused by the virus, which is an infection filling the lungs with liquid making it difficult to breathe. Keeping a person on oxygen long enough at the hospital, is what Clark says, helps you “fight it off”.

Clark said he was surprised by how quickly the virus can progress. He said, “I went from being able to walk around with only a little loss of breath to lying on my back desperately fighting for air in a matter of eight hours…if you have COVID and you’re day, 5,6,7,8 with symptoms and you find that you have a cough or wheezing or getting up and walking a hundred feet makes you a little extra tired, if you walk a little slower, get to a hospital immediately because you could be dead in 2 days.”

Clark expressed his gratitude again for those on the front lines saying, “they risk their lives everyday to save us.”


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