Doctor explains heartache after losing nearly 15 patients to COVID

Updated: Jan. 4, 2021 at 6:36 PM EST
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LA GRANGE, KY (WAVE) – An Oldham County doctor is sharing what it’s like to lose some his long time patients to the coronavirus.

“In the last nine months, this has hit has shown me how dedicated a lot of our fellow physicians, nurses, and frontline workers are,” said Dr. Keerthi Kemparajurs with La Grange Family Care Doctors. “When they are sick it’s very heartbreaking, heart wrenching, very difficult for us to deal with.”

A family medicine physician, Dr. Kemparajurs has been practicing medicine for the past 32 years. One of his patients is Phillip Draper, 66.

“Dr. Kemparajurs was there every day for me,” Phillip Draper said.

Draper got COVID-19 in November and so did his wife Sue. On November 24, their wedding anniversary, Sue Draper had to drop her husband off at the hospital when Phillip wasn’t getting better.

“My breathing just became labored,” Phillip Draper said.

“I didn’t know if it was going to be my last time with him,” Sue Draper said.

Phillip was in the ICU for 21 days and then spent a few days in a COVID unit.

“Thank God I pulled through it,” Phillip Draper said. “A lot of people that had it like I did, don’t make it.”

They don’t. Dr. Kemparajurs says he has lost about 15 patients to this virus. He says it’s sad because he’s known many of his patients for decades.

“I know their families, children, grandchildren, Dr. Kemparajurs said. “It’s like losing a family member and it’s devastating because we can’t go to funerals we can’t express our sympathy except over the phone we can’t hold people’s hands. it’s very disheartening.”

Dr. Kemparajurs says it’s been hard to see his patients die without their families by their side. One of his patients who passed away was in his 60′s, he says it was someone who always made him laugh.

“He got admitted to the hospital and within three days he was gone,” Dr. Kemparajurs said. “It’s emotionally exhausting. Physicians as much as we say we are, we don’t get emotionally involved with our patients, we don’t get personally involved, we have to keep a professional attitude. That doesn’t happen in family medicine.”

In the moments of loss, there are also moments of clarity.

“It’s made a lot of us better physicians because we constantly are reminded why we are in this business to take care of our patients,” Dr. Kemparajurs said.

Patients like Phillip Draper. While he’ll be on oxygen for a few months, Phillip says he’s grateful to have lived through his bout with COVID-19.

“I honestly believe if I hadn’t had such good doctors and good nurses and good respiratory people, I don’t think I would have made it,” Phillip Draper said. “They were always encouraging me.”

What makes Dr. Kemparajurs concerned is slow vaccine rollout and COVID fatigue. He says people still need to take mask wearing and social distancing seriously.

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