MIDDLETOWN, R.I. (WPRI)— Rich Santello had a near death experience with COVID-19 after spending nearly one month in the hospital fighting for his life.
After experiencing symptoms of the virus— chills, fever, and difficulty breathing— in March, Rich’s wife brought him to Newport Hospital. There, he tested positive.
Rich, who is 56-years-old, was treated with hydroxychloroquine and sent home.
Less than six hours later, he was back in the hospital. This time, his symptoms were more severe.
“That’s actually the last time I remember for about three and a half weeks because they had to incubate me pretty quickly,” Santello said Saturday.
Santello was put on a ventilator. His wife and children were told to plan for the worst.
But after getting transferred to Rhode Island Hospital, Rich started to slowly improve. There he received dialysis, blood thinners and antibiotics.
“I can tell you today I’m only here for two reasons: one was the amazing work by the doctors and nurses both Newport and Rhode Island [hospitals],” Santello said. “But also the power of prayer.”
He says doctors told him of all the COVID-19 patients at the ICU when he was there, Rich was the only one to survive.
“I feel bad I was one of the ones to live,” he said.
The outpouring of support from his family and friends is helping Rich during his recovery. Now he is received home care to help get his physical health back to normal.
“Now it’s been four weeks, I’m walking around the block. I still have a lot of work to do to get my physical strength back,” he said.
Rich had the opportunity to thank the doctors and nurses who cared for him.