By Ted Nichols II, Public Affairs Specialist at Lebanon VA Medical Center.

This article was originally published on the VA’s website and was released to LebTown so it could be shared with our readers.

Easter weekend came and something just didn’t feel right to 71-year-old Brian Rumpilla of Fredericksburg, Pa. An Army Veteran who served as a military policeman from 1968-1971 and was deployed to Vietnam from May 1969 to April 1970, he just felt like his gas tank was running on empty.

“I felt like I was wrung out and had no power,” Rumpilla said. “It was an effort to do everything.”

His wife noticed he appeared to be having some shortness of breath, he didn’t seem to notice.

“She notices things all the time that I don’t sometimes and pays more attention to me than she does herself — which is a good thing sometimes,” Rumpilla said laughing. “Overall, I just felt terrible all the way around and knew something wasn’t right and wanted to know what was wrong.”

Rumpilla then completed a telephone triage visit through VA’s telephone care line on April 18 and within an hour of completing that call was on his way to the emergency department at Lebanon VA Medical Center where he has been receiving care since 2007.

Within an hour of arrival, he was given an X-ray that revealed a mild case of pneumonia. Given the symptoms presented, he was also immediately administered a rapid cepheid test for COVID-19 that came back positive within that hour.

After testing positive for COVID-19, Rumpilla was then admitted to a special COVID-19 inpatient unit that was set up in the medical center in response to the pandemic. These special COVID-19 units are segregated and isolated with dedicated clinical staff assigned to them that do not provide care to other units in the facility.

“The experience was a little stricter than a normal hospital visit. For precautions, I was quarantined and isolated,” Rumpilla explained. “However, the nurses were really, really good. They were sure to keep me in line and were there to help me and I appreciated that. I don’t think nurses get better than the two nurses I had.”

Initially needing supplemental oxygen and attentive care when admitted, Rumpilla’s condition improved clinically to the point he no longer required oxygen supplementation and he was discharged on April 21 to continue his recovery at home.

“This is going to take a little bit longer to get over. It isn’t a fast thing,” Rumpilla stated. “My wife has me quarantined to the bedroom and bathroom right now. They sent paperwork home with me and my wife goes by the book.”

His family couldn’t be happier with the compassionate care their father received during what is a trying time for healthcare facilities around the country.

“I am grateful for the wonderful care that my father received during his recent COVID-19 inpatient stay at the VA Medical Center. He had wonderful things to say about his nurses and the care he received,” said Rachel Kohr, Brian’s daughter and manager of cardiology services at WellSpan Good Samaritan Hospital in Lebanon. “I’m so grateful for all of the healthcare workers who selflessly continue to serve our community during this time.”

Rumpilla does have a final message for his fellow Veterans who may find themselves in a similar situation.

“When you start feeling really bad, call in and go get checked out, use the resources available and don’t wait,” Rumpilla said. “I should have been there a week ahead of time. I was glad they were there for me when I came in. The hospital has treated me good all along.”

Note for readers: Brian Rumpilla signed appropriate releases to allow for the disclosure of all information contained in this article.