Cobb teacher in ICU with COVID-19 has ‘long way to go,’ wife says

A Cobb County teacher remains hospitalized in his almost monthlong battle against COVID-19.

Patrick Keys has been in WellStar Kennestone Hospital’s intensive care unit for 25 days, where he remains on a ventilator, dialysis and a life-support machine, said wife Priscella Key, who also teaches for Cobb schools.

Key was originally on a larger life-support machine that provided oxygen to his lungs and pumped blood throughout his body, but he’s now on a smaller one that removes carbon dioxide.

Doctors are keeping the Hendricks Elementary School art teacher sedated to help him rest and “stop the violent coughing spells” he was experiencing, his wife said. Doctors don’t know when he will be able come off the ventilator or the life-support machine.

“He is slowly making forward progress, but has a long way to go,” said Priscella Key, who said she’s not allowed to visit her husband at the hospital.

The first grade teacher at Clay-Harmony Leland Elementary said she’s only able to see her husband about once a week using FaceTime; an ICU nurse holds the phone so she can view his face.

Patrick Key started feeling ill Friday, Nov. 6, and by the following Sunday, Priscella Key was also sick. The pair monitored their symptoms for a week at home, but Patrick Key was hospitalized Nov. 15 after his blood oxygen level dipped below 80%.

Priscella Key’s illness wasn’t as severe, so she was allowed to recuperate at home. She was cleared to return to work Nov. 30, but still deals with extreme fatigue.

“It is very difficult and very hard emotionally,” she said. “We remain very thankful for the hardworking and compassionate medical team at Kennestone. We also continue to be so very thankful for the support, generosity, and prayers from so many people. They have truly been a source of strength for us. Our hearts are full of gratitude.”

A GoFundMe fundraising page was created to help the Keys pay for medical expenses. As of Wednesday, $23,710 has been raised. Priscella Key said she’s grateful for the fundraising campaign because, despite having health insurance, she’s certain the hospital bill will be expensive. She said she hopes the community can continue to pray for her husband and others who have been diagnosed with COVID-19.

“Both of our schools have been so very supportive,” she added. “The students and their families have also been so sweet and supportive during this extremely difficult time. We definitely feel the love.”