‘It was a scary choice.' Local man who has COVID-19 being treated with anti-malarial drug

‘It was a scary choice’ Local man who has COVID-19 being treated with anti-malarial drug

CORAOPOLIS, Pa. — A local family decided to have their father try the anti-malaria drug showing promise as a possible treatment for COVID-19.

Channel 11 first told you about 76-year-old Bob Schrecengost last week, when another patient at his nursing home, Caring Heights Community Care and Rehab Center in Coraopolis, tested positive for COVID-19.

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This weekend, his family got the news that he, too, tested positive.

"It was extremely difficult for all of us in my house to hear the news,” said his daughter, Lisa Smarra.

Smarra visits her dad outside his window at Caring Heights every day. He has dementia, so she is tasked with making his medical decisions.

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Smarra first heard hydroxychloroquine touted as a possible COVID-19 treatment during a presidential briefing. But while the drug shows signs of promise, clinical studies are still underway. She discussed the risks with her dad’s doctor.

"He has not used this treatment in any other patients just yet,” Smarra said.

The biggest concern is a possible negative reaction with the antibiotic Z-Pak her father was already taking.

"Heart arrhythmia or any kind of heart event, heart attack, anything could happen with his heart as a result of the two drugs interacting,” Smarra said.

Angie: "That must have been a scary choice to make."

"It was a scary choice,” Smarra said.

But with her father's COPD and pulse oxygen dropping, she wasn't confident he could make it so she asked the doctor one more question.

"Ultimately, I asked him, I said, ‘If this was your father, would you prescribe it for your father?' And he said that he would,” Smarra said.

Schrecengost’s temperature and oxygen level are improving.

"It’s amazing. it really is. I’m glad I took the chance.” Smarra said. “I love my dad so much, and I know every child loved their parent. Every daughter loves their dad, but I am so happy that he’s OK.”

The family is praying their dad comes through this and hope his attitude will make the difference.

"He said he's gonna be healthy and not to worry about him,” Smarra said.

Positive spirit can take you a long way. The family also said they want to thank the staff at the nursing home and their willingness to be proactive in treating their dad.

Families with loved ones in nursing homes dread updates about COVID-19 spread