GRAND RAPIDS (WXYZ) — "Never in a million years did I think my 28-year-old healthy, very active self would end up in the ER with COVID," said Dr. Dave Burkard, a resident physician in emergency medicine at Spectrum Health Butterworth Hospital in Grand Rapids.
Burkard recalls his first symptom being a fever. He quarantined himself and a test confirmed he had COVID-19.
And by the time day five rolled around, the young, athletic doctor thought he was on the path to overcoming a relatively mild case of the disease.
Then came day six and everything changed.
"I was a different man," said Dr. Burkard who suddenly found himself so short of breath that he was calling his own primary care physician.
"I've run a marathon before," he said. "But I've never had it where it felt like I just couldn't get the oxygen that I needed."
Dr. Burkard spent three days in the hospital where, since March, he's treated COVID patients, providing care and showing compassion as they connect with loved ones over Zoom and FaceTime.
"I've had the conversation with the dying 75-year-old man," he recalled, urging the patient to take a moment to call his wife before they inserted a breathing tube. "Those experiences stay with you."
Burkard recently shared a part of his story in a Facebook post that has been shared thousands of times. In the post, he urges people to wear a mask.
When talking with 7 Action News Tuesday, Burkard shared an analogy he recently heard.
'When you drive your car, you wear your seat belt," he said. "Do seat belts prevent all deaths? No, they don't, but that doesn't mean I'm going to drive down the highway and not wear my seat belt because it's keeping me safe.
"Masks won't 100% prevent COVID," Burkard said. "But if wearing your mask can save one life or can prevent one person from being hospitalized, that small inconvenience on you is definitely worth it."
Click on the video to hear from Dr. Dave Burkard in Kimberly Craig's report.