COVID-19: Joanna’s Story

June 22, 2020

In early April, Joanna contracted COVID-19.

Joanna COVID-19

“I wouldn’t wish COVID on anyone, but my experience at Humber has reaffirmed my faith in our frontline workers,” says Joanna.

“I wasn’t feeling well,” remembers Joanna. “I felt lethargic and had some shortness of breath.”

She contacted Toronto Public Health and was told that while she didn’t have enough symptoms to get tested based on requirements at that time, she should monitor her symptoms and quarantine for 14 days. Over the next two weeks Joanna’s shortness of breath worsened. She called Toronto Public Health and reported her symptoms again.

“This time, they called me back at 5:00am and said to get to the nearest hospital right away,” says Joanna. “It was frightening – we had started hearing about people dying – and I had to do it all alone.”

Joanna drove herself to Humber River Hospital’s Apotex Emergency Department. She had already considered Humber “her Hospital” for years – but she was blown away by the care she received when she arrived.

“The Emergency Department ran like clockwork,” she says. “From the moment I entered I was treated with care. The triage nurse took my health card, gave me a mask, and I was triaged immediately. Then I was brought to my own room.”

Joanna was brought to a hazmat room, a design feature in Humber’s Emergency Department which allows for potentially contagious patients to be placed in a system of isolation, removed from public waiting area. The room contains a shower and has no soft products in it, so everything is easier to clean and disinfect.

“From outside my room, my doctor explained everything that was going to happen. I had medical imaging done on my lungs, an electrocardiogram, and finally the swab,” Joanna says. “The only person who fully entered the room was my nurse, who was covered in Personal Protective Equipment. It was so well orchestrated, like a well-oiled machine.”

Joanna was well enough to leave and was discharged to continue quarantine at home. Three days later, she received her results promptly through the My Humber Health portal, confirming what she had suspected: She had tested positive for COVID-19. Joanna found it emotionally challenging to be home alone for weeks, without contact with anyone. And she wasn’t physically getting any better. Her mother would drop off food and leave right away.

“I took a turn for the worse one day,” says Joanna. “My heart rate skyrocketed. I thought I was having a heart attack.”

Joanna called an ambulance and they brought her back to Humber. She was brought to the same hazmat room as before.

“They were incredibly thorough and did all kinds of tests – I counted 37 tests on My Humber Health portal,” says Joanna. “And just like the first time, the team in the Emergency Department was so compassionate. I was so frightened but the way I was treated made all the difference. I really want to thank the paramedics, doctors, nurses, and technologists who cared for me.”

This time, to Joanna’s relief, she tested negative for the coronavirus.

Weeks later, Joanna has cautiously started having socially-distanced visits with her family again, but is still experiencing long-lasting effects of the virus.

“My heart rate hasn’t gone back to normal and goes from one extreme to another when I’m doing dishes,” she says. “I wouldn’t wish COVID on anyone, but my experience at Humber has reaffirmed my faith in our frontline workers. I received so much compassion and empathy – I can tell they truly love what they do.”


Our current healthcare needs are rapidly changing. Donate to Humber’s COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund, and help keep our Hospital ready for anything the coronavirus might bring.