Working Together News

A New Lease on Life

For five years, Eileen Neuwirth of Boca Raton, FL, was in and out of her local hospital with pneumonia. She would feel good for a few weeks, but then get sick all over again. Her doctors kept increasing her antibiotics, but she just felt worse and worse.

“I couldn’t do anything. I was just home,” said Neuwirth. “I couldn’t get up, so I laid in bed.”

A few friends had been to National Jewish Health and thought the hospital could help her. Even though she is terrified of flying, she decided to make the trip with a friend. The two of them planned on staying in Colorado for nine days so she could go through in-depth testing with specialists at National Jewish Health. However, a few days after her arrival at National Jewish Health her condition worsened and she had to be hospitalized at Saint Joseph Hospital for a month.

“The poor woman got quite sick,” said Neuwirth’s immunologist, Eileen Wang, MD. “She was still trying to get to her appointments, but there was no way I could let her try to struggle through with her oxygen levels so low.”

Eileen had caught two nasty infections, and her lung had practically collapsed from mucus buildup. Thanks to the National Jewish Health hospitalists on duty at Saint Joseph Hospital, Neuwirth stabilized and beat the infections. From there, her pulmonologist, cardiologist and other specialists were able to see how her underlying conditions were playing into her respiratory symptoms and get her on a treatment plan.

“Being hospitalized ended up being a good thing. Because she was an inpatient and highly monitored, they were able to do things that we are not able to do as outpatient,” said Dr. Wang.  “We were able to see what she could tolerate in a safe environment and get her on a good regimen.”

Eileen previously had been diagnosed with an irregular heartbeat, asthma, bronchiectasis and reflux, but the doctors at National Jewish Health and Saint Joseph Hospital also found evidence of tracheal instability and severe obstructive sleep apnea.

 “It was scary, but I’m happy it happened this way,” said Neuwirth. “That’s how I look at it. It’s a blessing I got sick there because it’s better if they can see what’s going on. So, thank God.”

Neuwirth is now back in Florida following a treatment plan set up for her by specialists from National Jewish Health. She is feeling much better and enjoying her new freedom. “For the first time in five years, I can go out with people and enjoy myself. I’ve been able to be with my friends and family, and that is wonderful to me.”