On a cold and dreary Thursday morning, John Wiedeburg and Janine Bennett emerged from a life of strict isolation to talk about avoiding the coronavirus.
Wearing masks and standing more than the recommended six feet away from others, the couple stood on their front porch and said they can’t afford to take any chances catching COVID-19 because they are both dialysis patients.
“Both of us have very low immune systems because of the dialysis,” Wiedeburg said. “[The virus] would probably kill us.”
“[We would] probably end up in the ICU,” Bennett said in agreement, “or it would probably kill us.”
The two recently received a letter from their clinic, Fresenius Kidney Care on Dutchmen’s Lane, informing them that someone at the clinic, either a patient or an employee had been diagnosed with COVID-19.
In spite of layers of infection control at the clinic, the couple was shaken by the news.
“Kind of gives me nightmares,” Bennett said. “Which then I spend the nights coloring in a coloring book or something.”
The couple goes in for dialysis treatment three times a week and found comfort in precautions that are in place. The clinic requires masks and a screening for symptoms before entering.
The company would not reveal how the infected person was detected or how often the person had recently entered the facility.
“We have been actively screening patients for COVID-19 since February and implemented strict infection control procedures and use of protective equipment which have met or exceeded federal guidelines,” Fresenius Kidney Care spokesman Brad Puffer said. “Though we are unable to disclose information about specific individuals or centers, we can confirm that patients who present symptoms or test positive for COVID-19 will be receiving treatment in separate clinics or shifts to help protect our patients, employees, and physician partners.”
The incident is the latest in a series of health scares for Bennett and Wiedeburg. In the past year, both have required hospitalization, and the TARC3 driver strike disrupted their treatments in February.
“He was on a ventilator once,” Bennett said. “And I was in last fall for pneumonia.”
As the economy attempts to reopen, the high-risk couple plans to continue their isolation and spend the hours “watching a lot of TV.”
They urge people to take as many personal precautions as necessary for themselves and the health of others.