Lonta Ash of Merrillville considers himself lucky.
He was diagnosed with COVID-19 but thanks to medical care and time, he’s on the road to recovery.
The 46-year-old Ash began having difficulty breathing the evening of March 12 but didn’t think it was very serious because he has asthma and thought the issue would pass. However, that wasn’t the case.
The following Saturday, he could barely breathe and was driven by his wife to the emergency room at Methodist Hospital’s Southlake Campus in Merrillville.
Ash spent the night in the Methodist’s ER and was admitted to the hospital the next day, according to Methodist Hospitals. After he tested positive for COVID-19, he spent 16 hours in intensive care and was later transferred to one of Methodist’s COVID-19 units.
The hospital recently established dedicated COVID-19 units at both its Northlake and Southlake campuses. According to the state as of April 1, there were 2,565 positive coronavirus cases in Indiana, including 180 in Lake County.
“I was in a state of shock,” said Ash, who was the hospital’s first patient diagnosed with COVID-19. “I couldn’t believe it and was very frightened. I never thought in a million years it would be this.”
Ash with aid from Methodist Hospitals’ medical staff fought through the virus and was discharged March 28.
“They nursed me to get out of there to go home,” he said. “There were times that I didn’t think it would happen, but I made it.”
Ash’s case was complicated by two of the underlying medical conditions that put COVID-19 patients at higher risk for severe illness, according to Methodist Hospitals. Diagnosed with diabetes five years ago, Ash has been living with asthma since he was a child.
The day before Ash was released, Methodist Hospitals delivered oxygen tanks to his home. He’s currently sleeping with oxygen at night and says he’s gaining strength each day.
Ash recognizes a full recovery will take time.
“They said it will take a while for a full recovery because of my asthma,” he said. “I’ll keep on taking my medicine and I’ll get there.”
Ash, his wife, Corrine and his son, Lavonta, are living in different rooms of their Merrillville home as a precaution. Ash also isn’t leaving home and following the stay-in-place order.
He asserts COVID-19 is real and can happen to anybody.
“This is scary because you see it on the news, but you don’t think it’s going to happen to you,” he said. “It just hit me so fast.”