The Road to Recovery
New Jersey rock singer Pat Guadagno is back on tour—thanks to Monmouth Medical Center's post-COVID pulmonary rehab program.
The summer of 2021 will be business as usual for Matawan’s Pat Guadagno, a beloved musician and singer who’s made a lifelong career rocking out on New Jersey’s local music circuit. He’s back to performing in-person shows, with regular gigs already booked during the next two months up and down the Shore, from Highlands and Monmouth Beach to Sea Bright and Wall. It’s an exciting life, for sure, but with long road trips, late nights and stuffy venues, it’s an exhausting one too.
And it’s also a lifestyle that Guadagno, a father of three and grandfather of two, nearly had to give up after he contracted the coronavirus in early January. His initial symptoms included shortness of breath and a slight fever, but his health got progressively worse. Just two days after learning he was positive for the virus, he developed pneumonia and was admitted to Monmouth Medical Center (MMC). Guadagno, 67, a diabetic, recalls thinking the worst.
“I remember thinking that I might never get out of here,” he says. But despite his serious condition, Guadagno was determined to do “whatever it takes to fight this disease”— and he had help every step of the way.
“The entire floor was COVID patients, and each had his or her own room,” he says. “But nurses came in to take vitals and give medication in full hazmat regalia, and another two remained outside the room to record the stats. They were all positive and encouraging yet completely honest.”
Some nurses even went out of their way to provide comforts. “I managed to find ways to get extra ice cream,” Guadagno admits.
Just 10 days after he was admitted, Guadagno’s oxygen levels slowly improved, his fear of being on a ventilator subsided and he was well enough to be discharged with portable oxygen. And two weeks later, he began recovery at MMC, as survivors of severe COVID-19 cases often experience persistent weakness and respiratory symptoms. The hospital’s comprehensive Pulmonary Rehabilitation Program offers a post-COVID recovery program that is safe and effective. The dedicated rehab care is part of The Joel Opatut Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation Center at MMC, the first program in Monmouth County certified for both cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation by the American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation.
“For many patients, the COVID-19 pandemic caused a rapid progression of respiratory failure that often required hospitalization or intensive care unit treatment, and survivors of COVID-19 often experience persistent weakness and respiratory symptoms,” says Chandler Patton, M.D., Pulmonary and Critical Care Section Chief and Medical Director for Critical Care, Pulmonary Rehabilitation and the Healthy Lives Program at Monmouth Medical Center. “The goal of our program is to provide care to post-COVID patients to assist their recovery by improving breathing and lung function to maximize complete recovery.”
Through exercise and education, program participants can become more active and independent. The highly specialized staff works closely with post-COVID patients in developing exercise programs to meet their needs. Exercise regimes are conducted under the supervision of a registered nurse, respiratory therapist and an exercise physiologist. Each participant’s heart rate, blood pressure and oxygen saturation are monitored to measure the body’s response to exercise.
“Once again, I was amazed and encouraged by the commitment and dedication of these workers,” Guadagno says. “I cannot say enough about the program and the staff.”
Just 90 days after he was admitted to MMC, Guadagno received his first COVID vaccination. And today, he no longer requires the portable oxygen to conduct his regular routine, which includes “playing bad golf once a week.”
“I was prepared by my doctors for a long road back,” he says. “My breathing isn’t 100 percent yet, but I will be singing. I give a huge heartfelt and still somewhat wheezy ‘thank you’ to the nurses and staff at Monmouth Medical Center.”
Telling It Like It Is
Matawan resident Pat Guadagno used Facebook to document his stay as a COVID-19 patient at Monmouth Medical Center earlier this year. Here’s a sampling of what he wrote:
“Getting amazing care, over-the-top treatment by the Monmouth Medical staff. Extremely caring staff; every one of whom seems to have their own personal COVID stories. I continue to be amazed, humbled and fortunate to be in their presence and under their watch. I learned so much in here. I learned a little about what makes people fearlessly walk into highly dangerous situations to do everything they can to save their brothers and sisters. I am always inspired by the mettle and courage of the care worker. Thanks again to this incredible group of very special people.”
For more information or to schedule an appointment at the Joel Opatut Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation Center at Monmouth Medical Center, call 732.923.7454.