Community Activist Home After Months of Hospitalization for COVID-19 Continues Recovery

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A community activist who tested positive for COVID-19 in early May is home, but his recovery is just beginning.

“Glad to be home after 95 days away from my family and enjoying every minute of it,” said Ron Weiss, 76.

In July, his family told News4 they feared he was dying from the impact of COVID-19. Washington Hospital Center transferred him to BridgePoint Nursing and Rehab in D.C. where he received little to no care in part because he tested positive for COVID-19 for months.

Weiss thanked News4 for having a role in his care.

“You changed my health care,” he said. “You talked to the chief operating officer of the hospital. The next day, I got significantly better treatment.”

But his fight is just beginning.

“COVID affected my heart, my lungs, my liver, my kidneys,” Weiss said.

Weiss is traveling far from his Prince George's County home for follow-up care though he's just a mile from Adventist HealthCare Fort Washington Medical Center.

“He's having to navigate this entire system going into Washington, D.C., down to Prince Frederick, leaving his area and he's getting non-congruent care,” said his daughter Cathryn Weiss-Bigler.

“That’s what we see in Fort Washington,” said Eunmee Shim, president of the hospital. “It's called a medical desert, actually.”

Community activist Ron Weiss, 76, tested positive for COVID-19 in early May, and now he's in need of surgery because of how the disease impacted his heart. Prince George's County Bureau Chief Tracee Wilkins reports on the cracks in the healthcare system that’s leaving him without the care he needs.

In May, Shim detailed how ill-equipped Prince George's County's medical system was for COVID. That's part of the reason the governor invested millions in temporary solutions including the reopening of Laurel Hospital and a temporary wing at Fort Washington.

“COVID-19 really brought out the data to be highlighted to say we have fundamental infrastructural gaps,” Shim said.

Weiss is retired Air Force, a civil and electrical engineer. He's now a community activist. Improving the county's health care system is at the top of his list.

Coronavirus Cases in DC, Maryland and Virginia

COVID-19 cases by population in D.C. and by county in Maryland and Virginia

Source: DC, MD and VA Health Departments
Credit: Anisa Holmes / NBC Washington

“My dad is fighting for his life, but at the same time he's still doing meetings with his community, he’s still working on his activism, he's still fighting for his community,” his daughter said.

Weiss said he's received an outpouring of support from people on social media wishing him well. He said his goal is to continue to get stronger in hopes of having heart surgery in the next two months.

Prince George's County Executive Angela Alsobrooks created a task force to examine issues revealed by the pandemic. Creating a stronger health care system is one of them.

The county is in the process of revamping its healthcare system. A regional hospital is under construction in Largo.

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