KEY POINTS

  • The 60-year-old woman was put on a ventilator last February and spent December being weaned from it
  • She tested positive for COVID-19 when vaccines were not widely available
  • Kansas City has a rolling daily average of 5,738 new coronavirus cases

A woman in Missouri spent most of 2021 in hospital on a ventilator after she tested positive for COVID-19 early last year.

Gwen Starkey, a 60-year-old Kansas City resident, was first put on a ventilator in February 2021 after she was diagnosed with the novel coronavirus. At the time when Starkey tested positive for COVID-19, vaccines were not yet widely available. 

The woman spent 322 days on the machine before finally being weaned from it in December. She later received the “Certificate of Ventilator Liberation” from her respiratory therapist. 

“It’s so fantastic for her because she hadn’t eaten real food for almost a year,” April Shaver, Starkey’s daughter, told Kansas City Star, She added that her mother looked like a “body in a bed” while she was on the ventilator.

“We’re just removing 2021 from the calendar. It never happened. We get a redo,” Shaver said.

Starkey has since begun rehab in Johnson County. She is hoping to be discharged from the hospital and to go home on Feb. 12, a day before the Super Bowl. 

Cases in Kansas City have seen a consistent rise in numbers since last Christmas. As of Sunday, the city reported a rolling daily average of 5,738 new COVID-19 cases and 12 deaths, according to a data analysis by The New York Times.

Statewide, Missouri confirmed 53,181 new novel coronavirus infections over the past week, with an average of 7,597 cases per day. At least 5,200 people were also reinfected with the virus in the past seven days. 

Over the past week, health officials recorded 25 new deaths in the state, with an average of 4 per day, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services COVID-19 dashboard showed.

Hospitalizations have also been spiking across the state, with 3,202 COVID-19 patients currently admitted in the hospital. At least 641 are in the Intensive Care Unit and 345 are on a ventilator.

Health experts, including Dr. Dana Hawkingson, the University of Kansas Health System’s medical director of infection, continue to urge people to get vaccinated and observe preventive measures, including wearing a face mask, washing hands and avoiding crowds.

hospital-3192833_1920 Representation. A hospital bed. Photo: Pixabay