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Fee happy with his COVID treatment at ‘hometown hospital’

Times Report
Crookston Times

    Frank Fee and his family have always been big supporters of RiverView Health. Frank, former longtime owner of KROX Radio, now owned by his son, Chris, spent many years promoting RiverView events like Philanthropy Day and donating to the organization. But Frank's "hometown hospital" took on even more meaning for the family this fall as he spent 10 days in the new facility recovering from COVID-19 and pneumonia.

    "When we gave our donation pledge, we knew somebody in the KROX and Fee families would have to use the new hospital," Chris Fee said of the family's donation to RiverView 2020, RiverView's new hospital and clinic. "We just didn't anticipate it would be this soon."

One positive test, then another, and another

    Frank's health issues started right after Halloween when several members of Chris' family tested positive for COVID-19. Fortunately, Chris and his immediate family members had mild cases, consisting mostly of body aches, mild headaches, and night sweats. Frank wasn't as fortunate.

    After a positive test and feeling symptomatic, Frank saw a provider and was sent home to monitor his symptoms and told to call if they got worse. The next night he woke up and his wife Jeanette was unable to understand him. Jeanette called Chris and they took Frank to RiverView's Emergency Room.

    Dr. Bosun Fashoro, RiverView Internal Medicine provider, admitted Frank to RiverView Hospital, the only hospital with a bed at the time due to the influx of COVID-19 patients in the region. Over the next 10 days, Frank received antibody plasma, oxygen, a regimen of Remdesivir, and antibiotics intravenously.

    "I was not doing very well in the beginning, but then a couple of days later 'something' happened, and I was able to nearly breathe on my own," Frank recalled. "It could have been the regimen, the antibody kicking in, but I have to believe much of it was the number of prayers that were being said for me during this time, plus of course the great care of Dr. Fashoro and the outstanding nurses I had."

    At one point, Dr. Fashoro offered Frank the option to transfer to a COVID-19 bed that opened in Fargo. Assured RiverView was doing everything a larger facility could do, Frank decided to stay. Soon, he was out of the Intensive Care Unit, and two days later, he was home to "Nurse Jeanette" in time for his 71st birthday.

Dealing with healthcare during a Pandemic

    Ten days in the hospital is a long time, especially when you can't have your family by your side because of pandemic restrictions. According to Chris, not being with his dad was the hardest part of the situation, especially for Jeanette, who would've stayed with Frank the entire time if given a chance.

    "We weren't able to visit my dad because of COVID, but the communication from the doctors and nurses was extremely important to us and gave us peace of mind in a difficult time," he said. "Having a loved one with COVID and underlying conditions is exhausting. You go from panicking, constant worry, to happy because he is getting better, then worry because numbers drop, and the emotional roller coaster continues and will continue for several weeks and possibly months."

    Through it all, Chris said he and his family are thankful his dad could get the care he needed close to home.

    “We are so fortunate to have RiverView Health in Crookston," Chris said. "To have world-class care in our small town is something we have never taken for granted. The care my dad received, starting at the RiverView Emergency Room with Dr. Fashoro, and of course, the nurses, was outstanding. We know RiverView gave my dad the best care he could have received anywhere in the United States, and the best part was he didn't have to leave town."

Symptoms, gratefulness remain

    While Frank feels much better these days, some COVID symptoms linger, including trouble sleeping at night, some loss of taste and smell, dizziness, and lightheadedness. Yet, he remains thankful and wanting to offer help to others going through similar situations.

    "I've gone back and forth on whether to share my COVID experience,” he said. “But in the end, I thought if it could help someone, then it would be worth it.

    "I can't thank Dr. Fashoro and Dr. (Joe) Dib (RiverView Emergency Department physician) enough for their care, along with the 13 nurses I had during my stay, and Dallas Aune, respiratory therapist,” Frank continued. “This is the reason we've donated to RiverView over the years and lately to the new addition. To have this hospital in our community is a Godsend.”

    RiverView offers a variety of COVID-19 related services, including rapid drive-thru testing in Crookston. Find out in a matter of minutes if you are positive for COVID-19. Testing is offered Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and by appointment on weekends. For more information, call RiverView's COVID Hotline at 218 470-7983.

    Monoclonal antibody therapy for mild COVID-19 positive patients at risk of developing severe COVID due to underlying health issues is also offered at RiverView. This one-time, one-hour outpatient IV infusion treatment has proven to reduce COVID-19-related viral load, symptoms, and risk of hospitalizations and emergency room visits associated with COVID-19. For more information, call 281-9595.

Jeanette and Frank Fee, seated in the middle, are pictured with their family.