COVID-19 Story Tip: A Nurse Becomes a Patient While Battling COVID-19 at Johns Hopkins

07/14/2020

Sharon Tapp, who worked as a nurse case manager at Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Washington, D.C., started experiencing sudden body weakness, chest pain, a high temperature and headache on March 18. Concerned, she went to her local urgent care center to find out what was wrong. They told her that these symptoms were flu-like, tested her for the coronavirus and told her to quarantine for 14 days. After five days and no difference in the presentation of her symptoms, the urgent care team contacted Sharon, letting her know that she tested positive for coronavirus and recommending that she go to the emergency department. Sharon’s family took her to Johns Hopkins Medicine’s Suburban Hospital. Because her condition worsened while at Suburban, she was transferred to The Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore within 10 days of being admitted to Suburban Hospital.

While being cared for at Johns Hopkins, Sharon spent two months in a medically induced coma. Throughout her 117-day stay, Sharon spent time in the medical intensive care and cardiac care units, where she was also placed on a ventilator while battling pneumonia and heart and lung failure. She received dialysis as well as a procedure called extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO), which is a treatment that helps to oxygenate and recirculate blood throughout a person’s body, allowing vital organs to rest and heal.

Today, Sharon is still receiving care in the hospital, including targeted rehabilitation therapy from a multidisciplinary team in the Johns Hopkins physical medicine and rehabilitation department to aid in her cognitive, physical and verbal recovery. Her daily care routine includes muscle strengthening exercises to improve her weakness and regular in-hospital walks to improve her strength and balance. She is slowly regaining her independence with activities of daily living such as standing, walking, lifting and reaching for items. In addition, her speech therapy providers are working on her swallowing function and her cognitive-linguistic ability. It has been a long road to recovery for Sharon. She, her family and her care team are hoping she will be ready for discharge on July 17.

Sharon says the care she received from her Johns Hopkins providers and her family and friends’ daily phone calls and prayers are what guided her through such an uncertain journey.

Tapp and April Pruski, M.D., a member of Tapp’s care team and assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, are available for media interviews.


For information from Johns Hopkins Medicine about the coronavirus pandemic, visit hopkinsmedicine.org/coronavirus. For information on the coronavirus from throughout the Johns Hopkins enterprise, including the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and The Johns Hopkins University, visit coronavirus.jhu.edu.