NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - A Mandeville church deacon became St. Tammany Hospital’s first COVID-19 patient and after 16 days in the ICU Michael Bergeron is showing much improvement.
He first noticed symptoms shortly after attending an out of state conference and had a difficult time discovering the true nature of his illness. Even though he’s having some breathing issues, Michael Bergeron has learned to savor every day.
“I think it’s a miracle that I’m out here talking to you today,” said Bergeron. Four days after his return from a conference in Florida, Bergeron developed severe chills, chest pain and shortness of breath.
“I got home from Orlando on Wednesday evening after Mardi Gras and then Sunday night the first symptoms kicked in,” he said.
Bergeron called an urgent care clinic and common flu tests came back negative. He says a doctor prescribed steroids and sent him home. The problems got worse though and a week later he called his doctor.
“They found out I was on a business trip to Orlando and their ears perked up,” said Bergeron.
Bergeron said he could hardly breathe, felt intense pain and he was eventually rushed to St. Tammany Hospital where he became COVID-19 patient number one.
For the next 16 days a large medical team that included Doctors Casey, Blanco and Cressy treated him in ICU with antibiotics and an HIV medication. He also had a team of nurses by his side constantly in full PPE.
“I love those folks, they are like family to us,” he said.
Michael Bergeron is a deacon at Mandeville‘s First Baptist Church and relied heavily on his faith through his viral ordeal.
“I’m so thankful for all the prayers and the medical team,” said his wife, Lois.
Eventually the pain subsided, Bergeron‘s oxygen levels rose and he could breathe on his own. The disease scars your lungs and impact breathing and we’re doing exercises now to try to minimize effects," said Bergeron.
This weekend Bergeron helped give his wife Lois a priceless birthday celebration, complete with a neighborhood drive-by. Now he worries if most people truly appreciate how deadly coronavirus can be.
“From a personal perspective I would proceed with all caution and tap the brakes,” Bergeron said.
Mike Bergeron has no idea how long his recovery will last but after becoming St. Tammany Hospital’s first covid patient, he’s enjoying each day, one at a time.
Bergeron says earlier testing could have been helpful but he does not question their lack of availability. He says everything is so new and that medical teams did a remarkable job with what little information about coronavirus they had available.
As for St. Tammany Hospital, it’s currently treating 16 COVID-19 patients. That’s their lowest number in a month.