Army Veteran Beats COVID-19 - Durham VA Health Care System
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Army Veteran Beats COVID-19


U.S. Army Veteran Ollie Hendricks celebrates with a Diet Pepsi after winning a three-month battle with COVID-19.

By Joshua D. Edson, Public Affairs Specialist, Durham VA Health Care System
Wednesday, July 8, 2020

            On June 26, 2020, Army Veteran Ollie Hendricks felt the sun on his face for the first time in two months. After a difficult battle with Coronavirus (COVID-19), Ollie is being discharged from the Durham VA Healthcare System (DVAHCS), infection-free, and eager to see his family and friends. During his tenure at the DVAHCS Community Living Center (CLC), Ollie has built relationships with members of the staff. So, it's fitting that DVAHCS Staff were there to wish him well and to ensure that he got home safely.

           “Everybody that helped me, I want to tell you, I love you,” said Hendricks.

           Hendricks' symptoms started with a simple body ache, which prompted the 58-year-old Army Veteran to call in sick from work. That ache quickly turned into chills and a fever, and with COVID-19 becoming an increasing concern, Ollie knew that this was more than a case of Springtime flu.

           “I work in food services and some of my co-workers got sick,” says Hendricks. “I had that bad feeling, so I went to the hospital and told them that I thought I had Corona. They took my temperature and confirmed it.”

           The simple body ached turned into a three-month medical challenge. During that time Mr. Hendricks was placed on a supplemental oxygen machine and was transferred to Duke University Hospital for treatments. Throughout the care and treatments, Ollie experienced several medical setbacks that caused immediate concern for the Veteran and the medical staff of the CLC.

“This [was] serious,” exclaims Ollie. “I know it, I was staring death in the face.”

           There were some good days and there were some bad days. After a month of not being able to get out of bed, Ollie’s muscles had atrophied while at Duke University Hospital. Fortunately, Ollie is a fighter and after the worst parts of the virus had passed, Ollie transferred back to the DVAHCS, where he began his six-week recovery period. Not one to give less than 100 percent, Ollie was determined to get on his feet in a shorter period. The recovery period included weightlifting, plus some balance and strength exercises, which often left him worn out. Miraculously, Ollie prevailed and cut his recovery time to just three weeks.

           “Mr. Hendricks came to us exceptionally motivated,” says Dr. Jack Twersky, Medical Director of the DVAHCS CLC. “No matter how uncomfortable he felt throughout his rehabilitation, he did everything we asked him to. We facilitated his recovery, but Mr. Hendricks’ recovery is largely due to his efforts.”

           Currently, Ollie is enjoying his day in the sun, thankful for what may very well, be his second chance at life.

          “I know the military are your heroes,’ he says, “but nurses and doctors are my heroes. I love you; I really do."


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