Gerald Prenick being transported into an ambulance

Gerald Prenick – His Story

In late February and early March, my wife had falls on two different occasions, and after the second one, she was advised to go to the Charlotte & Lewis Steinberg Emergency at North York General Hospital (NYGH), where she tested positive for COVID-19. Upon her release that evening, she was told to self-isolate at home for 14 days. Thereafter, I began feeling progressively weaker and had difficulty breathing. Concerned, my wife called an ambulance and I was rushed to NYGH, where I too tested positive for COVID-19. According to the doctors, the severity of my COVID-19 case was about an 8 out of 10. 

When I arrived at the emergency department, I was by myself, and the two nurses did whatever they could to help me. They took me to the dedicated COVID-19 unit, where at midnight a doctor asked me if I wanted to go on a ventilator and needed an answer by noon the next day. Then and there, I elected not to do so because at the age of 85, my life after coming off a ventilator would not be the same as it was before. Instead, I was put on an oxygen concentrator (a device that purifies air for patients requiring medical oxygen due to low oxygen levels in their blood) for 24 hours a day. 

According to the World Health Organization, 14% of COVID-19 patients require hospitalization and treatment with oxygen concentrators. I was one of those patients. Not only am I grateful to all the staff at NYGH who treated me — I am also thankful to the incredible donors whose generous contributions funded the oxygen concentrator that kept me alive.

For the entire 18 days in the hospital, I was in the dedicated COVID-19 unit to prevent me from spreading the virus to other patients. Being confined within those four walls was incredibly disconcerting, disheartening and lonely. Besides the occasional conversation with the compassionate staff looking after me, I had no social interactions. The only way I could speak to my family was virtually through FaceTime, and that was only when I had enough energy to accept a call. 

It wasn’t until around the 11th or 12th day that my condition began to stabilize.
The day before I was discharged, they reduced the amount of oxygen I was on from 15 litres down to one litre. On April 23rd, as I was no longer on oxygen, my physician, Dr. Ben Bell, felt comfortable enough to finally let me go home to my wife. 

Today, I’m COVID-19-free and have been given a clean bill of health. My family and I are so relieved and grateful to the amazing physicians, nurses and other hospital staff who cared for me. Whenever I needed something, they were there. They even called my kids many times a day to update them on my condition. 

North York General saved my life, and for that, I will be forever grateful. I will wear the blue ID band on my wrist until it falls apart to remind me of my good fortune at having a second chance at life. 

North York General has administered over 61,000 COVID-19 tests during last six months, and throughout the hospital, the tireless and hardworking staff have been delivering the best possible care to our community during these unprecedented times. Although the number of COVID-19 cases have decreased in Canada, the virus has not fully gone away and a second wave is possible. This could mean there will be more COVID-19 patients like me whose lives will be on the line.

Your gift of any amount you’re able to give will support the hospital’s highest priority needs as we head into the fall and winter season.  

I hope you know that whatever amount you can donate will go a long way to directly help the hospital’s patients and staff, right in your own community.

Having always lived in North York, I have been treated at NYGH for other illnesses over the years, and every time, the care and attention I received was outstanding. It is my go-to hospital.

I wanted to give back to North York General for the excellent care they gave me through an extra generous donation and will continue to support the hospital as best I can. Before being treated for COVID-19, I made annual donations to NYGH to help them continue providing exceptional care to the North York community and beyond, and remain among Newsweek’s top five hospitals in Canada.

With gratitude,

Gerald Prenick