Barbara Sterling’s inspirational story of survival is well-known in the halls of Methodist Charlton Medical Center. After all, the DeSoto grandmother was the hospital’s first COVID-19 patient. The 62-year-old’s send-off from Methodist Charlton was all over the local TV news.
Barbara’s remarkable recovery story is familiar, it seems, to everyone but Barbara.
“I don’t remember anything,” Barbara says. “I don’t remember feeling sick. I don’t remember going to the hospital or the treatment. But when my family tells me the story of my time there, I get chills.”
Barbara spent 54 days in the intensive care unit (ICU), 33 of them were on a ventilator. Although her family members could only see her through video chats, her husband and son were warned she might not make it. Barbara had several underlying health conditions, including diabetes. In fact, her family thought they were about to plan her funeral.
“I believe God sent me to Methodist Charlton, sick with COVID-19, so the doctors could work through me and learn through me,” Barbara says. “I am so grateful to them.”
Mahesh Kottapalli, MD, infectious disease specialist on the medical staff at Methodist Charlton, oversaw Barbara’s care. Dr. Kottapalli says they have learned a lot from patients like Barbara.
After Barbara was released from Methodist Charlton, she needed time to recover in a rehabilitation hospital. That’s common after long stays in the ICU.
But now, Barbara is back home and planning to pay it forward.
“I’m going to help a COVID-19 patient the same way someone else helped me,” she says.