Jeff Alt, a paramedic who works for the Flanders Northampton Volunteer Ambulance Corps and was diagnosed with COVID-19, is making a comeback.
Last week, he was removed from machinery helping him breathe, and later transferred out of the intensive care unit at Stony Brook University Hospital, where he had been for nine days. On Monday, May 11, he said he is in a regular unit, being weaned off oxygen, and is hoping to be discharged later in the week.
The 40-year-old explained over Facebook Messenger from his hospital bed that he got sick two weeks earlier. The symptoms came on slow, starting with chills, aches, and then nausea. A week later, he began to experience difficulty breathing and a cough.
“That’s when I went in,” he said of entering the hospital. He was quickly taken to the ICU.
“I was going to get intubated, but I fought it off,” Alt said. “They had the equipment ready to put me under. I was 15 minutes away from a ventilator, but knowing the poor outcomes, I begged not to be.”
Instead of a ventilator, he was put on a bilevel positive airway pressure, or BiPAP machine, a less invasive ventilatory support system for COVID-19 patients.
“The doctors are surprised of my status thus far, because I am beyond where I should be,” he said. “I am a fighter, and plan on defeating odds.”
The experience has taken a toll on him physically, emotionally, and financially, he admitted.
Upon being hospitalized, Alt’s friends and co-workers from across Suffolk County, where he has volunteered and worked in emergency medical services for the last 20 years, have raised money for him and his family. So far, more than $19,000 has been donation. To contribute, visit www.gofundme.com/f/help-for-jeff-alt.
Mark Dunleavy, the ambulance corps chief, said everyone is happy to hear Alt is recovering, adding the paramedic is “a strong-willed fighter.”
“We expect a speedy recovery,” Dunleavy said.