PHOENIX — Just leaving the hospital is not the end of the journey for many COVID-19 patients and an effort is underway to help some of them who are recovering at home.
According to the state's coronavirus dashboard, 787 COVID-19 patients were discharged from Arizona hospitals on Thursday. Some patients who are sent home are out of the hospital but not out of the woods.
"People think this COVID is a joke sometimes," said Scott Hodgson, who contracted the virus in November. "It's not."
Hodgson told ABC15 he thought some breathing issues were related to broken ribs suffered in a motorcycle accident. Turns out, he had contracted COVID-19 and ultimately wound up at Valleywise Health Medical Center with oxygen saturation in the low 80s.
"There was a couple times at night I laid there and prayed and said 'God, don't let me die, please,'" Hodgson said.
Hodgson spent six days in the hospital before heading home but had to stay on oxygen. Valleywise Health partners with the non-profit, Home Assist Health, to aid in daily check-ins with patients who leave the hospital to finish their recovery at home.
"Once you get diagnosed with COVID, it's like a ton of bricks on you," said Michelle Jaramillo with Home Assist Health. "I try to help them, lead them, into feeling comfortable at home knowing what it is that they need to do."
Assistance can come with oxygen, pulse oximeters, even food, Jaramillo said.
"They need constant monitoring because of the novelty of the virus," said Valleywise Health Transitional Care Nurse Alice Schreck.
Schreck said some patients are scared to finish their recovery at home.
"It's as individual as the patient," she said of patient fears. "Will they get better? Will they have the oxygen forever?"
Hodgson told ABC15 he appreciated the daily calls and inquiries about how he felt and his oxygen level as he recovered at home.
"Made me feel good," he said. "That somebody actually cares, you know."
Having overcome the virus, Hodgson doesn't want anyone to take it lightly.
"I'm the old people, the ones that it usually kills, so I came pretty close," he said. "I'm fortunate and I'm happy."