Services

Location Information

Locations

Pulmonary & Critical Care Medicine

Ruse Bldg Suite R3300
1900 S Main St
Findlay, OH 45840
Office Hours:

Monday - Thursday
8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Friday 8 a.m. - 3 p.m.

Fax: 419.429.6437

Patient Testimonial – Wendy Joliff-Schiltz

Wendy Joliff-Schiltz, a former COVID-19 patient of Blanchard Valley Health System (BVHS), has been through a journey that she refers to as “incredible.”

Serving as a physician’s assistant for 22 years at another healthcare organization, Wendy is no stranger to the medical field and, leading up to her own illness, was very familiar with COVID-19 and its effects, witnessing them firsthand in her everyday work. Wendy never imagined she would be on the other side of COVID-19.

Rewind to the holiday season in 2020. Knowing that it could be the last Thanksgiving she would have to spend with her mother, who had been diagnosed with lung cancer, Wendy and her family had a small family gathering. Unbeknownst to Wendy, and her family, her mother was contagious with COVID-19 at that time. Four days later, Wendy became symptomatic, and as a medical professional, leaned on her own expertise to “fight off” the illness for a few days. Her condition continued to deteriorate even after a short visit to the emergency room (ER) within her own healthcare facility. As the days went on, Wendy became more and more ill.

One morning, Wendy woke up and could hardly breathe and felt like she had “glass in her throat.” Residing in Findlay, and near Blanchard Valley Hospital (BVH), her now husband, Chuck, urgently rushed her to the ER at BVH. Wendy recalls she was admitted and immediately was placed in a room.

Unfortunately, this was only the very beginning of Wendy’s courageous fight. At the time, there were no vaccines or monoclonal antibody treatments available, and despite being given convalescent plasma from patients who recovered from COVID-19, Wendy did not improve. As the day progressed, Wendy said she felt like she was suffocating and drowning and requested more help when her critical care team saw her that morning. Rafid Fadul, MD and Kim Geckle, APRN-CNP, a certified nurse practitioner, who managed Wendy’s condition through most of her admission, agreed she needed to be put on a ventilator.

“That was very difficult. As a provider myself, to now be so helpless and to not have any family with you,” Wendy recounted. “Dr. Fadul stood beside me, reassured me and talked to my family on the phone.”

Upon going on the ventilator, Wendy admitted she thought it would just be for a few days, but it ended up being over a week. Ultimately, Wendy’s condition improved and she was able to go home from the hospital a few days after being extubated, which happened to fall on Christmas Eve.

“God bless Dr. Fadul. I really think my outcome was in part a result of him very quickly moving me to ICU. I have so much respect for everyone who cared for me. You could see the fatigue and exhaustion in all of the people who cared for me, you could see how weary their souls were, but that didn’t stop them from holding my hand and hugging me in all of their full PPE and gear when I was in fear and panicked. They treated me like their family. They were phenomenal,” Wendy praised.  

She continued, “I want everyone who took care of me to know, when they saved me, what they did for me. I got to be with my mom for one more Christmas, and I was with her when she died. I got to be here for the birth of our grandsons, that were born in March and April. Then, I got to marry my best friend and love of my life in our backyard,” Wendy noted.

Currently, Wendy said she is living life and loving every minute of it. Even though there are everyday challenges for her, as she has chronically low oxygen and lung disease due to her fight with COVID-19. However, she is doing her best to embrace and accept her new normal.

“Days will go by that we won’t even have a television on because my husband and I are just so busy enjoying life. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes it really difficult. Every day is hard in a different way because I can’t just walk out of the house on an adventure without having to think about having supplemental oxygen with me. But, thank God I get this second chance at life to appreciate it in a different way. I realized how blessed I am by the simple things – my life, my health and the people that I love the most. It’s not about the material things anymore, it’s about the peace, the love and the care.”

Prior to contracting COVID-19, Wendy was used to leading a very active lifestyle as she spent time power lifting, cycling and even mountain climbing. Although she is not quite back to scaling mountains yet, she has started to resume those types of activities, as she continues to recover. Even though these hobbies are not as easy to do as they once were for her, Wendy has still made them a focus in her life.  

“Those are all the things I’m not willing to give up just because I have a chronic illness now. If it requires me to put five liters of oxygen on so I can go ride a bike, then I’m going to do that.”

My husband and I, we’re riding bikes, we’re doing a lot of walking and we bought kayaks. I feel so grateful and lucky that I still get to do all of these things.”  

As someone who nearly died from COVID-19, and now has permanent health conditions because of it, Wendy is a staunch advocate of the COVID-19 vaccine and is fully vaccinated herself.

“I am hands down a proponent of the vaccine. I cannot say enough about what I feel is our responsibility as humans to take care of humanity and each other and the importance of the COVID-19 vaccine and its prevention,” Wendy stated. “I listen to people say, ‘well, I’m not your typical at-risk patient for COVID-19.’ Neither was I. I was a power lifter, a road cyclist, I was a lifetime non-smoker, not obese, I didn’t have any of the risk factors that people have when you think of COVID-19, and yet, I nearly lost my own life.”

She continued, “When you look at the risk to benefit, I promise you, the potential risk of contracting COVID-19 far outweighs the benefit of not getting the vaccine. I do think it’s saving lives,” she said. “I didn’t have the option to get the vaccine last December. I never ever, ever want my family, loved ones or fellow humans to have to go through what I went through.”

When reflecting on her time battling COVID-19 in the hospital, Wendy has an immeasurable amount of thankfulness and respect for the caretakers she encountered, all along her journey. The admiration was mutual, as Wendy shared, upon leaving the hospital, she was given a charm bracelet as a token of appreciation from several of her caretakers. They wanted to show Wendy that she had profoundly impacted them, and they collaborated to provide the crosses, which are donned on the bracelet, as a sign of amity.   

“My life has been positively touched by so many people in so many different ways and I would fail to recognize everyone,” Wendy said. “A lot of people know my story at BVHS. It’s very regular that I run into someone, and they tell me, ‘Oh my gosh, the whole hospital was praying for you.’ I felt that compassion, I really did!”

A big reason why Wendy shares her experience with COVID-19 so candidly is that she hopes her personal account may ultimately help someone else in some way. Wendy said she was deeply moved by the collaboration and incredibly caring nature of her new acquaintances at BVHS. Now, in a sense, she is striving to return that kindness and good nature any way she can.

“It’s been an incredible journey. I would have never of wished this on myself, but I am changed for it. The amount of gratitude and peace that I have in my soul for my life, for the people that I love the most and the second chance that I get – I’m so thankful to everyone at BVHS who got me here,” Wendy said. “My life won’t be for nothing – I say that to everyone that took care of me and all of their efforts – I will make them proud and try to make a difference. I thank them all for what they did and for letting me be here today. Life is good!”