HENRICO, Va. (WWBT) - The founder of a Henrico non-profit has tested positive for COVID-19 leaving the operations of "The Way" on hold.
Brian Purcell said his life dramatically changed over the weekend and is now at VCU Medical Center undergoing experimental treatment for the disease.
"I'm trying to be as optimistic as possible,” Purcell said. “I keep telling myself, and my wife, that we're better than we were when we first came in and we're getting better than what we were."
However, Purcell said it’s hard to focus on his recovery when he's worried about all the other people he helps out on a daily basis.
"When I made the decision to close The Way until I got better I just think about the many people who are going to be calling, 'hey are you open?', 'hey can we help?' and we're not there to do something,” he said. “It really bothers me a lot."
Since 2015 The Way has focused on helping seniors, the homeless and others in need. The number the non-profit serves has grown to around 3,000, but now all of that is on hold because Purcell tested positive for COVID-19.
“It was surprising because I've been concerned about it, but at the same time I haven't been letting my life stop," he said.
Last week Purcell said he wasn't feeling well last week, originally thinking he had the flu, but the test came back negative.
Then over the weekend he spiked a fever and had shortness of breath, landing him at VCU Medical Center. Both he and his wife tested positive for the virus Monday.
"When I finally heard the words that I have it that was eye opening and it just makes you think about everything in general," Purcell said.
The Way founder is now undergoing an experimental treatment by VCU Medical Center to deal with COVID-19.
"I have to get these injections for 10 days," he said.
The experimental drug being used in these clinical trials was also used experimentally to treat Ebola and is designed to slow the infection of healthy cells in a patient's body.
According to Purcell, he and his wife have been monitored by one nurse on staff during each shift.
“They’ve been very helpful, over caring,” he said. “If they see our blanket not properly tucked, they want to make sure it’s all taken care of. They’ve been very great and helpful.”
Since he was admitted to the hospital Purcell said his condition has changed.
"From day one not hardly being able to talk at all and just having the constant sweating and hot, cold and things like that, it's been getting a little bit better,” he added. “Today has probably been the first real day that both times they've check my temperature and it's been under 100 degrees."
While Purcell focuses on recovering, he wants those in the community to know he's thinking about them.
“I’m on that road to recovery where I’m going to get back to be able to serve like I did,” he said. “I’m just trying to stay positive on stuff and not let the fear of the unknown or the fear of all the crazy stuff dictate how I’m feeling.”
The Way is still accepting donations (PayPal: firstname.lastname@example.org) during the temporary closure. Purcell hopes to get back to work as quickly and safely as possible.
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