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Healthy You

Telehealth to the Rescue: Swedish Primary Care Physician Guides Patient Through Sudden Illness

Monday, July 19, 2021 3:33 PM

As a home inspector based in Humboldt Park, Jeffrey Wadsworth gets around town. Always active and in good health, Wadsworth thought he might have pulled a muscle after developing pain in his lower right rib cage and had occasional difficulty breathing. He never imagined it would become a life-threatening respiratory illness.

“It hit me in the early weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic,” he recalled. “We just had a new baby, and I admit my health was not a top priority.”

Doctor administers telehealth care

Worsening Warning Signs

As his symptoms intensified, Wadsworth’s wife Carolle Derradji—a nurse practitioner—knew something was seriously wrong.

“Jeffrey developed a bad cough and was completely exhausted,” she said. “As a nurse, I had the equipment to check his oxygen levels, which were lower than normal.” Fearing it might be the novel coronavirus, Derradji reached out to the Swedish Hospital COVID-19 Helpline. She was referred to Andersonville Family Medicine Physician Tina Mantanoña, MD, for an initial telehealth patient visit.

As the pandemic intensified in the early months of 2020, primary care teams at both Swedish and NorthShore mobilized to offer telehealth options during the initial wave of the virus. It quickly became a popular option for patients during the lockdown to address chronic or sudden health conditions while reducing any potential exposure to COVID.

Expert Evaluation

“After observing Jeffrey’s labored breathing and ashen appearance in our video visit, I also learned his feet were becoming swollen, I knew his symptoms were most likely caused by a serious heart or lung condition,” explained Dr. Mantanoña. “His health was deteriorating rapidly and every minute counted.”

Despite concerns about COVID-19, Dr. Mantanoña told Wadsworth to go immediately to the Swedish Hospital Emergency Department. There, under stringent safety protocols, he was diagnosed with severe pneumonia complicated by an infection between his lungs and chest wall and large abscesses within his lungs. Wadsworth underwent emergency surgery to remove a portion of his right lung. Following a two-week hospital stay, including time in the ICU, he returned home with Derradji monitoring his recovery.

“Once Dr. Mantanoña took control of the situation, everything aligned,” noted Wadsworth. “She saved my life because she took the time to listen to us.”

Frequent Follow-Up

“She put us on the path we needed to get the diagnosis and treatment that Jeffrey needed,” said Derradji. “Even after Jeffrey was discharged, Dr. Mantanoña followed us like a ‘mama bear,’ calling every day, sometimes twice a day, to see how we were doing.”

“Jeffrey’s experience is a good reminder that even during the pandemic it’s important not to postpone the medical care you need,” added Dr. Mantanoña, “Delaying care for ongoing, serious health issues or sudden symptoms could make your condition worse, and it’s so easy now with telehealth appointments. It may save your life!”