Man who survived COVID-19 ready to head home after more than 2 months in hospital

PITTSBURGH — “Enjoy the moments in your life. Time is a beautiful commodity,” said Fred Szoch as he sat in his St. Margret’s Hospital Room in Fox Chapel.

Szoch is recovering from COVID-19 and nearly died from the virus this past spring. He’s been recovering in the hospital since April and relearning basic things many of us take for granted.

It’s been a long time since Szoch could shuffle his feet back and forth to polka music. The 69-year old from lower Burrell nearly died in April.

“He was diagnosed with COVID-19. So he was very sick, he had respiratory failure,” said Dr. Dawn Rider, medical director for the Inpatient Rehabilitation Unit at UPMC East.

Szoch was on a ventilator for 21 days and has been in the hospital for nearly two and half months. He’s a three time cancer survivor, and thinks he got the virus while attending a play in March.

“You know some people are lucky because they don’t get real symptoms but me, I was probably compromised from the lymphoma treatments and the chemo I got in the fall,” Szoch said.

For the last several weeks, he’s been relearning how to talk, eat and walk.

“He had been bedridden so long and been sick so he couldn’t move himself in bed,” Rider said. “It took two people to sit him up in bed.”

It’s been a long road from that point. In videos provided by UPMC staff, you can see Szoch regained his strength and endurance. He’s now able to walk up steps, get into a car and, of course, dance. But Szoch said he couldn’t do this alone and is thankful to the therapists, nurses and doctors.

“I mean, they are so dedicated, caring, I call my nurses the therapists angels,” Szoch said.

He's now counting down the days until he finally gets to go home, which is hopefully soon.

Szoch said he’s, "extremely excited. I try to put the cart before the horse. But I think next Monday will come thru.”