COVID-19 survivor starts Cincinnati’s first support group

COVID-19 surviver launches support group

CINCINNATI (FOX19) - A Cincinnati man is still on the road to recovery after battling against COVID-19, but already he is taking action to help others.

Drew Abbott’s battle with COVID-19 ended a few months ago when he was discharged from the hospital. In another sense though, it continues today, as just walking up a flight of stairs remains the sort of small victory that reveals the virus’s lingering toll.

Abbott believes he contracted COVID-19 while traveling with his family to Austria in March.

“When I was there, I began to have some symptoms, and that was right when Trump closed the flights from Europe except for Americans, and we barely got out,” Abbott explained.

He was later admitted to Good Samaritan Hospital after spending two weeks bed-ridden in his home.

“At the end of it my oxygen levels got low enough that I passed out,” Abbot recalled.

He received several days of treatment at the hospital. But even weeks after his release, Abbot says he was still experiencing its effects.

“During that time, I realized there was a mental health side to this. I was very convinced during the time that I was isolated in the hospital from my family that I was going to die,” he said.

Abbott says that trauma has now triggered a form of post-traumatic stress disorder. Worse, he says he hasn’t been able to find anyone with similar experiences to talk to.

Aiming to fix that, he is now starting a COVID-19 survivor support group, the first of its kind in Cincinnati.

Abbott reached out to Christ Church Cathedral to help host the meetings. Mary McGrath, who is a congregation member and a mental health professional, agreed to facilitate the meetings.

“It just seemed like it made a lot of sense to be involved in something that I think can be pretty ground-breaking and also so needed right now,” McGrath said. “Even if it’s not needed right now. My expectation is that it will be.”

"I think it's evident that having people with a shared experience like this and being able to talk about it and be in a safe space to share what you experienced and how it affected you would be restorative to people who have been through this," said Abbott.

The meetings will be online using the Zoom app every other Thursday.

To join the new support group for COVID-19 survivors, call 513.621.1817 or email cjones@cccath.org

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