After spending three weeks at Huntington Hospital battling a severe case of COVID-19 in June 2020, Mark Nestlehutt returned home — but he was still in bad shape. “I had headaches almost every day, and I was so fatigued,” Mark says. “I assumed it was just the virus working its way out of my system.” As time went on, however, it became clear his symptoms were not going away.
“I’d never had high blood pressure,” Mark says, “but it skyrocketed and stayed there. I couldn’t process information the way I used to or communicate clearly. I had to stop working.” Most COVID-19 patients recover within a few weeks. But others like Mark develop what is known as long COVID, meaning symptoms may remain for months or even years.
Mark’s challenges helped inspire Kimberly Shriner, MD, FACP, medical director of infection, prevention and control, to establish our Long COVID Recovery Clinic (LCRC). “Dr. Shriner led the amazing care team that kept me alive when I was hospitalized with COVID-19,” Mark says, “and she kept in touch after I was discharged. Back then, it was early in the pandemic and not much was known yet about long COVID, but she wanted to help.”
When Dr. Shriner eventually opened the LCRC, Mark was the first patient. Thanks to the comprehensive care he received, some of his symptoms have now improved — but his recovery continues to this day. For Dr. Shriner’s ongoing commitment to caring for Mark, he and his wife, Stacey Mauldin Nestlehutt, are deeply grateful. “I feel like she saved my life twice,” Mark says, “once in the hospital and again afterward — guiding me through my journey with long COVID.”
Today, Mark and Stacey are doing their best to return to normalcy, and they recently welcomed their third child into the world. To express their appreciation, they decided to honor Dr. Shriner and LCRC physician, Joseph Dellinger, MD, by naming their son Joseph Shriner Nestlehutt. “It’s one small way that we can show our gratitude for two very special doctors,” says Mark.
While COVID-19 has affected so many and caused so much sadness, “it has been a joy to celebrate baby Joseph and a new life coming into the world,” says Dr. Dellinger.
Dr. Dellinger and Dr. Shriner note that it has been an honor to bear witness to Mark’s grit, determination and courage — and that of other LCRC patients. “It reinforces our dedication to fighting COVID-19 and broadening our understanding of the disease and its possible treatments,” says Dr. Shriner. Dr. Dellinger and I will always treasure our lasting connection to Mark and his family through the naming of Joseph Shriner Nestlehutt.”