PRINCETON, WV (WVNS) — In July 2020, the Medical Director of Princeton Health Care Center tested positive for COVID-19. After a long fight, he is now at home and recovering.
Dr. Charles Mirabile will turn 71 in December. He is diabetic and suffers from coronary artery disease. Despite his preexisting conditions, Dr. Mirabile said he never considered taking a leave of absence from the nursing center when COVID-19 arrived.
“But I never dwelled on that fact, I knew that I had a facility of vunerable people who needed to be taken care of,” said Dr. Mirabile.
Dr. Mirabile said he developed a passion for elderly care from the moment he entered medical school. He said he spent the majority of his 40 year career trying to change the environment and perception of nursing centers.
“How bad things are in a nursing home, and I just you know personally wanted to see that be different,” said Dr. Mirabile.
His wife, Cathy, spent many years working as a nurse and helping her husband and his practice. She said she knew the health care center would take every necessary precaution to keep everyone safe during the pandemic. Cathy said her pride for her husband’s passion outweighed any concerns she had.
“His job has always come first, and taking care of those residents has always come first,” said Cathy.
Dr. Mirabile tested positive for COVID-19 on July 29, 2020. He said when he was first diagnosed he felt fine, then the symptoms hit him all at once. He was admitted to the emergency room in Princeton Community Hospital two days later.
“That was the last thing I remember until I woke up in the select care long term care acute hospital in Charleston,” said Dr. Mirabile.
When asked how much time had passed after he woke up, Dr. Mirabile said “about six weeks.”
Dr. Mirabile said when he finally woke up and regained consciousness, he often thought about his wife and home. He was finally able to return home on Oct. 15, 2020, but he said the fight is far from over.
“Now I am walking, I’ve had home health here in terms of nursing, physical therapy and occupational therapy and I am getting back on my feet again,” said Dr. Mirabile.
He said he is begging people to take the coronavirus seriously. Dr. Mirabile said following all safety guidelines could save someone from enduring what he went through.
“I nearly died from this and unfortunately there are a lot of people who have died from this,” said Dr. Mirabile.
Dr. Mirabile said he considered retirement in January 2020. When asked if his answer would have been different if he knew what would happen in the last six months, he simply said “no.” Now that he is on the other side, he said he will retire and finally get the chance to rest.
When Dr. Charles Mirabile was flown out of Princeton Community Hospital to Morgantown, at the same time his wife Cathy was admitted to the emergency room at Princeton Community Hospital.
“A few days after that they took me and we were both at WVU hospital on the ventilator at the same time,” said Cathy.
Cathy said she woke up in a daze, not knowing she had been moved until she saw the WVU logo on the wall.
“The first thing I wanted to know was how he was because that was what was on my mind,” said Cathy.
She said she thought about her husband’s health more than her own. As a former nurse, she knew at his age there was a likely chance he might not come off of the intubater.
Cathy said she spent hours crying, and if it were not for an act of kindness from the hospital staff, she would have kept spiraling.
“Our wedding anniversary was Aug. 20 and we were both in the hospital, and the nursing staff took me down to see him even though they weren’t supposed to, they took me down to see him,” said Cathy.
Cathy said it took all her strength to talk to her husband in that state.
“I said you have to continue to fight. You promised you would continue to fight, and he shook his head yes and that is the only response I got from him,” said Cathy.
“I’m sure that her communication with me, even though I don’t remember all of it, I’m sure it had an impact,” Dr. Mirabile.
“One time he said I’m just so tired, I just don’t know I’m just so tired, and I’m sitting there saying you have to continue to fight, we are bringing you home, you have to continue to fight,” said Cathy.
After a few weeks, Cathy was healthy and ready to go home. The same could not be said for her husband.
“When they came to me and they wanted me to make him a no code, I said no I know he’s in there, he responded to me and I know he’s in there,” said Cathy.
She said no matter how bad things looked, she never gave up on her husband.
“Oh no not for one second, not for one second,” said Cathy.
When it came time to leave, she said it broke her heart to see the state in which her husband was.
“I couldn’t go back, when I got ready to leave, one of the nurses asked me if I want to swing by his bed, and I said I can’t, I couldn’t do it,” said Cathy.
When Dr. Mirabile was finally able to come home, Cathy said the smallest things made her feel whole again.
“It was wonderful to get to see him and just get to hold his hand, because that is all I wanted,” said Cathy.
Cathy said if it were not for the support of her daughter, her friends and her neighbor, and even a kindergarten class in North Carolina, she would not have made it through the toughest 74 days of her life.