UofL nurse, testing site director returns to work after beating COVID-19

Cindy Lucchese told WAVE 3 News a key to her recovery was receiving the Bamlanivimab antibody treatment.
Published: Dec. 10, 2020 at 8:50 PM EST
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - A leader in University of Louisville Health’s coronavirus testing protocol has returned to work after contracting and beating COVID-19.

UofL Health’s Chief Nurse Executive Cindy Lucchese tested positive for COVID-19 on Nov. 19 and suffered mild symptoms, including nasal congestion and a headache. Lucchese told WAVE 3 News though her symptoms were mild, they were concerning because she also suffers from rheumatoid arthritis.

“I have seen many of my colleagues test positive and have mild symptoms,” Lucchese said, “and I know recovery is, without major complications, certainly what we’re seeing in the vast majority of people who get this virus, but you just don’t know. So there was some fear, even though my symptoms were mild, I was concerned that it would progress. [I thought] I would start experiencing difficulty breathing and also, you know, have that cough or fever.”

Lucchese’s diagnosis coincided with the day UofL Health debuted Bamlanivimab, a monoclonal antibody treatment. Bamlanivimab is a single-dose infusion specifically targeted toward early disease treatment in select high-risk patients.

Lucchese said her physician recommended she receive the treatment, which she said significantly improved her condition within 24 hours.

“That was a little scary, because I didn’t feel well,” Lucchese said. “Obviously I was at home, and my physician made arrangements for me to go get the treatment, but I had to drive myself and my family couldn’t accompany me. But I will tell you, the approach and the staff at Medical Center East they very compassionate, very caring, very safe. And as a nurse, I was concerned about exposing them too. So, just a lot of emotions, a lot of emotions around it.”

After two weeks of quarantine, rest and recovery, Lucchese returned to work. Thursday, she was overseeing operations at UofL Health’s testing location on Brook St. and Liberty St. in downtown Louisville, the state’s first COVID-19 drive-through testing location and one she helped develop.

Through it all, she credits her team for their hard work and determination.

“It has certainly been a team effort, but I will say I’ve got a core group of individuals that have been with me from the beginning, and our success, I can only contribute it to my team.”

According to UofL Health, at the end of November, they had tested 52,078 people. That number includes all drive-thru COVID-19 testing.

UofL Health also provided the following statistics regarding the COVID-19 free community testing:

  • September: 3,397 people tested - 259 returned positive results, 7.6% positivity rate.
  • October: 5,264 people tested - 495 returned positive results, 9.4% positivity rate.
  • November: 10,292 people tested - 1,186 returned positive results, 11.52% positivity rate.

UofL Health is administering the Bamlanivimab antibody infusion at Mary & Elizabeth Hospital and Medical Center East.

Lucchese said she’s begun preparing the testing sites to distribute the COVID-19 vaccines.

Copyright 2020 WAVE 3 News. All rights reserved.