FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. – Jim Nix followed all the rules to protect himself and others from COVID-19 and thought he would be safe from the virus, instead of sharing his tale with others.
The deputy commander for quality and safety at Blanchfield Army Community Hospital tested positive for the virus in early October. His wife also tested positive for COVID-19 and the couple isolated together until it was safe for him to return to work.
The questions he encountered from coworkers led to him doing an informational video with BACH staff in a 10-minute talk where he details his experience from diagnosis to recovery.
“This is my COVID story,” Nix said in the video that was posted on BACH’s Facebook page Nov. 1. “I’m recovered from COVID-19, never thinking that I would ever get it because I implemented all the safety precautions that we’ve been told by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and by the health care experts and by our own team here at Blanchfield. I thought I was going to be safe, but I too got COVID.”
Nix said he wants people to know that it is important to remain concerned, to take precautions and follow COVID-19 safety guidelines, but also to know there is hope for those who do get sick.
“There is a fear factor associated with the coronavirus,” he said during an interview with the Fort Campbell Courier. “What I wanted to share is, I had it and my symptoms were very mild and I recovered with no problems. That’s going to be true for most Americans and most people who get COVID-19.”
He said it is still vital to remain vigilant to stop the spread of COVID-19 that can be deadly for some, especially those with certain underlying health conditions.
Nix had health issues that put him in the higher risk category and doesn’t know why he didn’t get sicker. Both he and his wife took over-the-counter medications to treat their symptoms and neither had to be hospitalized.
“There are those who have severe complications, but luckily I was not one of those,” he said.
He is constantly asked how he contracted COVID-19, despite taking precautions, Nix said.
“A lot of people say, ‘Hey Jim, well how did you get that COVID, who did you get it from,’” he recalls in the BACH video. “Well you know what? Now, it’s just so in everyday life and despite our best efforts of cleaning behind one another, wearing our masks regularly, washing our hands – I don’t know where I picked it up. But at the end of the day, it didn’t really matter, I still had contracted the virus.”
As of presstime Nov. 12, the United States had 10,474,012 cases of COVID-19 reported since Jan. 21, with 244,421 deaths.
With flu season looming, Nix said it’s important for people to take good care of themselves and take steps to avoid both viruses. Anyone who feels sick should not risk exposing others, but see a doctor and stay home until cleared, rest, hydrate, reduce stress and heal.
He said patients should call their health care provider in advance to be screened for symptoms. The BACH COVID-19 triage line can be reached at 270-798-4677.
“As we go into the cold and flu season, they will begin to do more flu testing, in addition to strep testing, as well as COVID-19 testing,” Nix said. “I would say during this season, this is not the time to sit at home and say I think I’ll be better tomorrow. If you’re feeling ill, please contact your doctor, let them know what’s going on.”
That is especially true for those who don’t feel their health improving quickly.
Nix was able to return to work, better than before, because of the amount of rest he got at home, he said.
As a BACH employee, Nix was required to get a hospital commander’s approval to return to work after 10 days passed and he was screened by the COVID-19 Clinic to make sure he was symptom- and fever-free.
“What a blessing that was to hear – ‘We are going to consider you recovered from COVID-19’ – and at that time they initiated the rest of the paperwork for approval for me to return to work,” he said.
It is very important to keep track of dates to ensure enough time has passed because it’s easy to lose track of time when sick, Nix said.
He urges everyone not to let their guard down, just as the nation is experiencing a spike in new cases.
“Wash your hands, keep them clean and wear your masks, even if there’s not a mask mandate out there,” Nix said. “It is still well-believed that a mask is one of the best protections against the spread of this virus.”
Nix served 24 years as a registered nurse in the Army and has been at BACH 15 years.
“He is a great resource for the entire hospital,” said Laura Boyd, BACH public affairs officer. “For someone who does that for a living to contract the virus but recover by taking care of him-self and working with a medical team – that’s an important message.”
Nix continues to wear a face mask and follow guidelines to protect others as well as himself.
“It’s not just about protecting yourself but about protecting others,” he said. “Let’s follow the recommendations. Let’s follow what we know helps reduce the spread and just do it every day, without pushing back.”
Editor’s Note: This story is part of an ongoing series about the challenges of COVID-19 fatigue and complacency.