Interviewed by Leslie Criss | Photographed by Joe Worthem
Tippah County native Maggie Carroll was recently the recipient of rousing applause and a standing ovation from employees and staff members of North Mississippi Medical Center. The occasion? The 52-year-old Carroll was the first COVID-19 patient on a ventilator to be released from the Tupelo hospital. Carroll, a Cotton Plant resident and a cashier at Dirt Cheap, entered the hospital March 26. She was hospitalized 22 days and was on a ventilator 13 of those days.
Q: When did you first notice you might be experiencing symptoms of the coronavirus and what were those symptoms?
A: On March 26, I got up to go to work, and I had chest pain and was having a hard time breathing. I didn’t think about it being one of the signs of the virus. But I went to the emergency room in Ripley to get it checked out, and I’m glad I did. I was taken by ambulance to NMMC.
Q: How did it feel to be hospitalized, all alone with family and friends unable to be with you?
A: I had never been hospitalized before so I didn’t know what to expect. It was lonely, but the phone calls helped.
Q: When you were placed on a ventilator, were you afraid you might not leave the hospital alive?
A: I don’t have any memory of being on the ventilator, but I know I must have been scared and put it in God’s hands. Because of His grace and mercy, He brought me through.
Q: Describe the feelings you had the day you were wheeled out of the hospital, surrounded by applause, to go home.
A: I was very emotional and happy that I made it out. I was overwhelmed by the staff cheering for me. I want to thank everyone that took care of me at NMMC.
Q: What words of wisdom would you share today with people about the seriousness of the virus?
A: I just want to encourage everyone to take it seriously. Please, wear your masks and wash your hands or use hand sanitizer. It might not affect you, but you can affect someone else and contribute to their illness and possible death. This virus is serious, and I want you to take it seriously. Think of your family, your friends and yourselves.