Jessica Archdale doesn’t shy away from telling people what she believed when the COVID-19 pandemic first began.
“I have to admit, I was a naysayer,” she said. “The pandemic seemed so far away. It was in the big cities, it was overseas … I thought it was being made into a political issue.
“I didn’t know of anyone who had COVID-19.”
Jessica is a quality safety regulatory specialist for OSF HealthCare. She goes out to OSF Medical Group offices and helps prepare for audits and visits from regulatory agencies like the Illinois Department of Public Health and Joint Commission. She ensures OSF Medical Group clinics are following policies and procedures.
In March 2020 after COVID-19 forced businesses to shut down and stay-at-home orders were implemented across the country, Jessica’s work at OSF shifted. Her team started fielding calls from people who said they were sick and needed a COVID-19 test. It was at a time in the pandemic that tests weren’t readily available, so the number of COVID-19 cases was low, particularly in Central Illinois, where she lives.
COVID-19 hits home
“I thought the virus was a political scam,” she said. “I thought, ‘so what if I get it, it will just be a mild cold.’ I didn’t even know anyone that even had the virus, let alone anyone that got super sick from it.”
Jessica had a change of heart in November 2020, when she contracted COVID-19.
“At first, the symptoms weren’t all that bad. I got tested and I stayed quarantined and isolated,” she said.
While Jessica tested positive, the rest of the family did not. Since her children, Bella, 14, and Logan 17, and her husband, Jason, had been exposed, they isolated away from her.
Her condition worsens
At about day five, Jessica’s symptoms intensified.
“I felt horrible like I had been hit by a truck,” she said. “I was in bed and my mom called to share that a good family friend was in the hospital with COVID. I was just around that friend the week before.”
Jessica began having breathing problems and went to an OSF PromptCare, where she was told she had a touch of pneumonia. The next day her blood-oxygen level was in the low 80s and her heart rate was high, so her husband took her to the Emergency Department at OSF HealthCare Saint Francis Medical Center. She was hospitalized for three days.
“I came home the day after Thanksgiving and went back to the ER the next day because my fever was so high and my blood-oxygen level was really low. They were able to treat me in the ER and sent me home,” she said.
While in the ER, she was told about the Acute COVID@Home program that monitors and digitally treats people recovering from COVID-19 at home. A blood pressure cuff, thermometer and pulse ox machine were delivered to Jessica.
“I had everything set up on an app. I was so impressed. I felt so at ease and comfortable that someone was watching me and monitoring my vitals,” she said.
Worrying about the worst
The family friend hospitalized with COVID-19 died, which really shook up Jessica.
“I was getting in my head a lot. By that time our friend had died. I was in the basement by myself. My pulse ox was in the 80s I was having trouble breathing …” she said.
Jessica wrote goodbye letters to her loved ones. She messaged her husband details about all the family’s account information. She knows now how macabre that sounds.
“But I told him we had to be prepared for the ‘just in case’ … That’s how I felt in my head. I was so scared. I couldn’t breathe,” she said.
A new year
After the New Year, Jessica continued to have COVID-19 related issues – shortness of breath, brain fog and fatigue.
As a health care worker who is in and out of patient care offices, Jessica was offered by OSF in January the opportunity to be vaccinated. She received the two-dose Moderna vaccine.
But her COVID-19 experience didn’t end there.
In March 2021, her husband came home from work and went straight to bed. Her daughter and son both complained of body aches and fever. All three tested positive for COVID-19.
The kids rebounded quickly, but Jessica’s husband had a persistent cough, low blood oxygen and a fever.
“On April 1, his blood-oxygen level was in the low 80s and he had a 103-degree fever. I told him I was taking him to the ER. He reluctantly went,” Jessica said. “He doesn’t remember me taking him there or remember anything for a couple days.”
Hospitalized for five days, Jessica’s husband received remdesivir and was put on oxygen. His symptoms – shortness of breath, brain fog and fatigue – continued into May.
A fully vaccinated Jessica said the vaccine was certainly put to the test. “I took care of all of them and didn’t get reinfected,” she said.
By now, Jessica’s kids are fully vaccinated.
“They got their first doses in mid-May. I wanted it to be their choice,” Jessica said. “They both said I don’t want to ever quarantine ever again. They missed school, sporting events and so much stuff.”
Jessica doesn’t hesitate to share her reasons for getting vaccinated.
Need a COVID-19 vaccine?
“Losing our friend, made it more real and I didn’t want to lose anyone else to that,” she said.
She’s quick to list her other reasons for getting vaccinated:
- I did NOT ever want to feel like how I did when I was sick – physically and mentally.
- I did NOT want to get anyone else sick. I could not bear the thought of losing another friend or family member from this.
- I want to travel and go to concerts again. I am so tired of being limited and feeling confined.
- I am sick of wearing a mask!
- I want to see my kids play at sporting events again … go to Disney for band.
“Not only did I get vaccinated for me but I did this to build up herd immunity for everyone,” she said. “I pray that my story can convince at least one person to get the vaccine. It’s #OurBestShot.”