Coronavirus pandemic restrictions became personal for Rachel Zabick when her grandmother went into respiratory distress.

“It’s important to be grateful for the time you have with people, because you never know what can happen,” Zabick said. “When all this COVID-19 stuff started we were all being very cautious, I never thought I would be in a position where I wasn’t allowed to be close to someone close to me. It was really hard. When she was transferred to the hospital it became more intense and scary, because we didn’t know what would happen.”

This story has a happy ending, but on April 22 it was unknown why Irene Schroeder, Zabick’s grandmother, was having difficulty breathing. Her CO2 level was twice what it should be. It was serious.

She was transported to the Mercy Health Perrysburg Hospital emergency room at 4:30 a.m. and was tested for COVID-19. Twice she tested negative, but still needed help breathing and did not want to go on a ventilator. Zabick and her mother, Lisa, were allowed to be with her overnight, as they were informed “she may pass.”

Zabick talked to her grandmother, telling her how important she is to everyone, and how her life has a purpose. After about an hour, Irene agreed to do the CPAP which was a huge turn around for her.

Zabick explained that they were able to use a CPAP machine instead of a ventilator, but it still took some extra time and patience to for Schroeder to be convinced.

Her grandmother further agreed to go to rehab at Wood Haven Health Care Senior Living and Rehabilitation in Bowling Green and continue the fight for her life. After nearly a month of hospital and rehab stays she is back at home this week in Perrysburg.

Zabick and her mother, Lisa, give a lot of credit to Wood Haven for working with them.

Lisa also credits the Bowling Green State University College of Education and Human Development for the training Rachel has received. She just graduated with a major in psychology and a minor in Human Development and Family Studies. She will be continuing her education with a master’s degree program in social work, specializing in gerontology.

“Being able to hold her hand and give her a hug, that’s something we take for granted. It was nice to see her through the window, but you just wanted to reach through the glass and hold her hand,” Zabick said. “I feel like Wood Haven did a great job with her rehab and therapy. I think that really made a difference. I think the nurses and staff were particularly kind and we could see that through the window as well. They gave us updates, were very informative and made us feel comfortable that she was there. It was comforting knowing that she was in good hands.”

The exact reason for the respiratory issues was never determined, but the COVID-19 restrictions applied to the entire facility. Lisa and Rachel visited almost every day while Irene was in rehab, standing outside her window talking to her. They talked to each other with cell phones. They made posters and banners, holding them up for everyone to see, while they stood outside in the grass.

Schroeder was such a positive patient she became the Wood Haven Health Care Rehab Resident of the Week.

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