Coronavirus survival story: 43 days in the hospital

Published: May. 20, 2020 at 6:20 PM EDT
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A man from Wallingford is now called a coronavirus survivor after being on a ventilator for more than three weeks. Our Olivia Lyons brings you his story.

Paulin Goulet, 67, left the Rutland Regional Medical Center after being on a ventilator for 24 days.

"We were worried," his son Stephane Goulet said. "There were some nights where we didn't think he was going to come home."

Paulin was diagnosed with COVID-19 in March and stayed in the hospital for 43 days. Now, he's at a rehab facility receiving physical therapy. His son Stephane and daughter Stacey say he's doing really well. They attribute that to the support he received at the hospital and his stubborn ways.

"I remember turning on the news... they were talking about how the hospitals were suffering in and out, and people on ventilators last 14 days and it scared me because Dad was on it for 12 days on that day and I was horrified," Stacey said. "And he kept going. Twenty-four days he finally got off the ventilator."

Stephane recalls a conversation with his dad after he regained consciousness.

"A lot of people that were in the same shoes you were in are not alive anymore and it's not dozens, it's thousands of them that were in the same predicament and didn't make it," Stephane said. "And he looked up at me and smiled and said, 'Well, that's the Goulet stock for ya.'"

Jeremy Powers at Rutland Regional says patients with COVID-19 are generally on a ventilator for two to four weeks and can take 45 to 60 days to fully recover.

"It's definitely a long road and there are a lot of variations," Powers said. "There can be patients that are on the lesser end, so they might have a short recovery timeframe, but the people who are severe enough to need that assistance. It's a lot of work."

Wallingford is a small town, so when the community found out Paul was sick. They came together. They put string lights on the bridge outside his house and hung a Canadian flag to represent where he's from.

"I was one of the ones at first when it started that said, 'Oh, the flu is worse.' And boy did it show me that no, it's not," Stacey said.

Paul has type 2 diabetes and hypertension. Stephane's message is to remind people to be conscientious, especially around those with pre-existing conditions.

"COVID is still out there and you can catch it and you'll end up in the hospital just like my father was, in some cases," Stephane warned.

Paul is working hard to be strong enough to go home in about a week.

Stephane told me there are a lot of scary and sad stories surrounding the coronavirus, but there are some happy ones, too, and those are the ones you should focus on. I'd say this is one of them.