COVID-19 Sion Survivor No. 4

Local resident and snowboarder, Laura Laakso, recently sent shock waves through Verbier when she posted on Facebook how she, a 34-year-old with no underlying health issues, was in Sion hospital fighting COVID-19…

“The symptoms initially started with a horrible headache. I just put it down to being tired – we’d had people visiting from Finland to come skiing, followed by Bart’s, (my husband) sister and her kids. The pain got worse, I felt like I had been hit by a truck. Initially there was no fever, but soon I was shivering under a blanket, I could hardly speak. My stepdad is a doctor at Vigimed in Martigny, he suggested I should be tested for the novel coronavirus as I work closely with staff at the medical centre. I returned home with a machine that measures blood oxygen levels. Soon after returning to Verbier, I could hardly breath, I was gasping for breath, short gasps. I called my stepdad hardly able to speak and told him my oxygen reading. As soon as he heard the result, he told me to rush to Sion hospital and called ahead to let them know I was coming.”

On arrival, Laura reluctantly left her four-year-old daughter and her husband in the car, slowly walking alone into the special entrance for those suffering with  symptoms from the virus. Bart drove back up to Verbier not knowing when he would see Laura again.

“While waiting for a cubicle I told the nurse I was from Verbier, she replied, ‘OK, that explains it…”

The doctors and nurses seemed stressed and already overstretched trying to look after everyone – I was just left waiting, struggling to breath. Eventually I was given oxygen. I could hear people crying and other distressing sounds – I overheard the doctors and nurses trying to calm them down.

All the staff were wearing protective gowns, masks and glasses. Their outer layer has to be changed each time they see a different patient. One Doctor asked me if I was scared. I’ve been in hospitals quite a lot before, so I know better than to overthink things, I switch off. I think the medics are scared as no one knows what lies ahead.

The first night I had my own room, then the next day they told me more COVID-19 cases were coming and that I would need to share. An 89-year-old lady was wheeled in, she was so scared, felt so alone and just wanted to be with her family. I held her hand while she told me about her grandchildren, I played old French music on my phone which made her smile. At night, I helped her go to the bathroom as the staff were so busy. I could hear crying from other rooms, I wanted to go and hold their hands too, I just wanted to comfort them, but I wasn’t allowed …”

“After four nights I was told I could leave. Will this virus cause lung problems for me in the long-term? No one really knows … this is all so new.”

Laura is now recovering well at home, still short of breath, but slowly getting better. Happily, her elderly room-mate is also back at her nursing home where they are able to assist her breathing with oxygen.

Laura was patient number 4 to leave Sion hospital to go home and recover – what will the number be at the end of this? How many won’t get to leave the hospital through the front door? Everyone has a part to play in that number, simply by staying at home.

How can you help stop the spread, and what to do if you have symptoms

From your physician in Sembrancher : a reminder that if you are ill and think you have COVID please …

  1. go to Coronacheck to evaluate whether you need to call a doctor
  2. ALL 3 medical offices are open (Les Arcades, Popescus and MediBagnes). All 3 are available to take patients and all 3 have created their own systems to manage phone calls, visits with potential or confirmed COVID patients, and visits with those who have no symptoms of COVID. Please call any of the 3 offices to be seen if you have medical needs, coronavirus or otherwise.
    The Maison de la Santé in Sembrancher remains open as an Ambulatory Evaluation Center (CIA) for the region of Grand Entremont for those with suspected or confirmed COVID. It is also open for phone calls and visits for patients not suspected to have COVID in a completely separate area of the clinic.
  3. If you are having significant trouble breathing, please call a doctor above or, if it is severe, call 144 for an ambulance.
  4. Please remember that the only way to stop this virus’ spread is to avoid contact with others. Imagine if you invite 2 friends over for dinner and you each go to 2 other friends’ houses the next night and on the 3rd night one of you starts developing symptoms. You were following “the rules” and there were only 4 of you together, but now the virus has been spread to 3 new households and 6 new people. Minimum. When I beg you to STAY HOME, it means STAY UNDER YOUR OWN ROOF. Set yourself a goal : do not have contact <2 meters away with people who don’t live under your roof for the next 21 days! (We think that almost no one is contagious for more than 3 weeks). I understand you are isolated and overwhelmed and sometimes scared. But this will not last forever … If we can do this right, do this completely, and do this NOW.