OAHHS Hospital Voice Fall/Winter 2021-22

Fall/Winter 2021-22 VITAL SURVIVAL After nearly ten months in the hospital, a COVID patient is back home thanks to a fighting spirit, a loving family, and his care team. By Claire Sykes Alejandro Castro loves to swim, hike, and cook. But throughout his 299 days at Providence Portland Medical Center (PPMC) as a COVID-19 patient, he couldn’t even breathe on his own, and many times was at the brink of death. Thanks to the hospital ’s critical care and respiratory/cardiology department teams—and its cutting-edge extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) machine—the 44-year-old many call Alex, a husband and father of four, is back home in Sandy, Oregon. The vaccines weren’t available when Castro and his kids became infected with COVID-19 in early December of 2020. His wife, Amanda Chase, was the only one in the family who was spared, and she took care of them. Their four children had mild cases and soon got better. But after Castro began struggling to breathe, she rushed him in the middle of the night to the nearest medical facility, Adventist Health Urgent Care in Sandy. A few days later, he was whisked into the critical care unit (CCU) at PPMC and immediately hooked up to an ECMO machine. This invasive, aggressive treatment, around since the 1970’s, is the last resort for patients with severe respiratory distress. ECMO machines do the work of the lungs and heart, hopefully giving the patient’s lungs the chance to heal. Luckily, one of the hospital’s three units, in constant use during the pandemic, was free. Without the treatment, Castro’s care team is convinced he would have died. 19 continues 