Hello Reddit,

I’m Dr. Charles Schleien, Chairman of Pediatrics at Northwell Health / Cohen Children’s Medical Center in NYC. I was diagnosed with COVID-19 on March 9th and hospitalized on March 21st for 6 days after dropping my oxygen levels.

At Cohen Children’s and The Northwell system, we have been at the epicenter of this pandemic.

In an op-ed in The New York Times, I reported on my experiences of that ordeal.

Today I was on the front page of Reddit

Proof: https://imgur.com/gallery/j1OwemO

Comments: 699 • Responses: 39  • Date: 

MyBlood_606 karma

What were your earliest symptoms, and what finally pushed you to go to the hospital? I hope you’re doing well!

zwschlei761 karma

My earliest symptoms were fever and chills. What pushed me to go to the hospital is when I dropped my oxygen levels at home using a pulse oximeter.

TinkwithTude29 karma

How low did your oxygen levels drop over the course of your illness?

zwschlei76 karma

I remained on oxygen during my hospitalization and for an additional 10 days after coming home.

horriblethinker280 karma

Hi Dr. Schleien, thank you for doing this. I am glad you are doing well! What is one thing you wished people understood about this virus more than anything else?

zwschlei1029 karma

Dont fight Cuomo on the need for ongoing safe distancing. His words are scientifically accurate.

MimeTheGap266 karma

What, if anything, did you do to keep your spirits up while you were in the hospital? Especially once you stabilized.

zwschlei534 karma

It was actually the stabilization itself that rose my spirits dramatically recognizing that I was not going the route of needing a ventilator.

XSavage19X227 karma

Is there any evidence that children with RSV or childhood asthma would be considered high risk?

zwschlei305 karma

We do think that children with asthma or other residual lung disease (post RSV if affected) is a risk. We are studying that issue.

Made_226 karma

Like others did you initially lose the sense of taste & smell?

zwschlei336 karma

I actually didn't although my appetite for the first 10 days was terrible

bb2030199 karma

What do you recommend for those who are parenting newborns moving forward? Should they continue well visits? Are walks safe? Should we be more hesitant once things begin reopening?

zwschlei318 karma

You need to have the baby checked. At Cohen Children's we're doing many telemedicine visits and would strongly advise that route if possible. Walking is great but stay away from people. Like everything else with young infants, take more care.

zwschlei185 karma

Thanks so much for all of the thoughtful questions. If you'd like to follow me my Twitter is CharlesSchleien

El_ahrairah1160 karma

Do you anticipate having any long term effects?

zwschlei258 karma

Hopefully not. I am healing and expect to be well in a few weeks. Theoretically, I could have some residual effects.

reckoner15143 karma

What has been keeping you occupied? Any book or movie recommendations?

zwschlei387 karma

Peaky Blinders, a jigsaw puzzle, PS4, walks, and generally doing a lot of academic work.

_Penlux_130 karma

Do you think that you was infected at work? How you can describe level of medical staff safety during this hard time?

zwschlei253 karma

I do not believe I was infected at work because I hadn't seen any patients over the last few weeks before getting sick. I am pretty sure I got it from a friend on the outside. At Northwell Health we have supplied adequate PPE to all our patient facing employees and kept them as safe as possible. Saying that, all of us n health care are at increased risk of infection.

joeshittheragman124 karma

Why does the effect of this virus seem so binary from location to location? NYC and New Jersey are struggling while the rest of the country seems to be ok for the most part? Is it simply based on population density?

zwschlei155 karma

yes that is the general thought.

cey24117 karma

It's nice to see some good news once in a while. Can you describe how and what you were feeling before being tested for Covid?

zwschlei194 karma

Since I'm affiliated with Northwell Health a large medical system, I was tested the day after my symptoms started. I have to admit I was scared of having the diagnosis initially.

W066600798 karma

What has been your hospital's experience with pediatric COVID-19 patients? Have you seen healthy kids progress to intubation, etc, or have they generally tolerated the virus well?

zwschlei171 karma

We have had a few dozen children admitted. Many of them do have underlying conditions. Almost all healthy kids have tolerated the virus very well and of course we have no idea what of the rate of asymptomatic infected children.

tangawanga95 karma

Congrats on the recovery! I recovered a few weeks ago. No hospital needed. When you were in hospital did they give you blood thinners (heparin or something) to reduce the risk of a pulmonary embolism?

zwschlei82 karma


TheCloser522594 karma

My mom started feeling “far away” late Friday night.

Last night she was feeling achy, had a low grade fever, a sore throat and light cough.

This morning she said she was overall not feeling very well, and knew “something was wrong”. She now has no sense of taste or smell.

Tomorrow morning we are going to get her tested. She has been alone in her room since yesterday.

I have been battling a deep depression the last 2 years, recently lost my job and insurance, have been off my medicine for 2 months(BiPolar Type 2 and Major Depression and Anxiety disorder) and have been spiraling downwards since this quarantine has been going on.

I don’t know if I can take another loss like losing my mom. What are the chances in your medical opinion that she beats this? She is a relatively otherwise healthy person with no auto immune deficiencies and minor health issues. It’s me who’s more at risk since I suffer from RA and a major case of Psoriasis - I’ve been advised to stay home and in my room.

Thank you, and god bless. I’m happy to hear your okay and Thank you for all you’ve been doing to help others.

zwschlei88 karma

It really depends on her age. I'm sorry what you're going through.

user675990 karma

What is your health like? Are you average, below or above?

zwschlei165 karma

Quite healthy for a man in his mid-60s

nesnotna84 karma

how does it feel, being sick with this virus?

zwschlei191 karma

For the first 2 weeks it was fairly awful with poor appetite and burning lungs. For the last 2 weeks I feel pretty good. The 2 weeks in between I was in the hospital and on oxygen.

Kikutwo83 karma

Hi Doc, hopes for your continued recovery. I'm astonished at all the different treatments being used. It seems there is a throw stuff at a wall process in effect. Humidified oxygen, adding nitrous oxide, using steroids or not, malarials or not, vitamin C or not. Cpap, bipap, proning. Is there no proven treatment plan yet?

zwschlei120 karma

You are absolutely correct. There is no proven treatments in how to treat respiratory failure, the virus in general , or prophylaxis.

SongsOfLightAndDark74 karma

Can you clear up a rumor that’s been going around? Some people are saying that children either don’t get COVID-19 or else do not become symptomatic. As a pediatrician who also has experience with this disease I was wondering if you could clear this up once and for all. Do kids get sick from coronavirus ?

zwschlei173 karma

Yes children do get sick fro COVID-19, although at very reduced frequency. About 1% of our admissions to Northwell hospitals has been children. Clearly kids with underlying chronic conditions are more prone to illness than others.

aSaltyGucci66 karma

I work as a cook. Have been out of work for over a month now. It sucks i haven’t been getting paid but I agree that the safest thing at this point is to keep restaurants and bars closed for now. What is your prediction for businesses like mine to reopen?

zwschlei144 karma

I have no idea, however, and I feel terrible for everyone who is out of work, but if we do this too quickly it will spread and cause much more morbidity and mortality.


My fathers oxygen levels is 88 - 86, and is currently hospitalized and deciding whether he needs to be on a ventilator. What is the chances off survival?

zwschlei78 karma

Depends highly on his age and co-morbidities.

NeilDiamondWaffles60 karma

I have a toddler with Type One diabetes. We’ve been self-isolating, but how concerned should I be if he ends up catching this? We have to hospitalize him whenever he catches a stomach bug, so we’re very nervous. There have been differing opinions circulating around the Type One community. Thank you so much! Glad to hear that you are doing better!

zwschlei61 karma

This is an interesting question. Clearly taking great care is warranted. We've actually not seen an increase in DKA with the pandemic, don't get cavalier.

brosbe4gnomes53 karma

What were you prescribed/treated with over the course of your treatment and recovery?

zwschlei105 karma

I did take hydroxy-chloroquine early in the course but of course was hospitalized at the end of course of medication. Thus its success is hard to say and we need the studies to be published.

phishyfingers41 karma

Were you put on any pain medication during your burning lungs phase? Anything you would recommend?

zwschlei56 karma

I wasn't on meds during that phase. I don't think anything would work effectively or at least haven't heard of anything.

Jcschulman41 karma

As a medical professional, how do you think the world is going to perceive this crisis in 20-30 years from now? Will it be seen as a major failure of the public health system?

zwschlei70 karma

That is an interesting question. I don't think the verdict is in yet and when it is done history will be the judge like every other major crisis.

someonerandom098738 karma

Well im happy for you that you recovered! Is there anything looking back you think wouldve helped you even more during recovery? Any advice at all for someone who catches it?

zwschlei86 karma

Having great help in that my son stayed with me during recovery was what I needed. My advice if you catch it is to self-monitor temperature and oxygen saturation with a clip-on oximeter, stay well hydrated, get a lot of sleep, and try to eat healthy food.

Graquace35 karma

How many people do you know or know of, that have survived covid-19?

zwschlei110 karma

At Northwell Health we've had 1000s of people survive who have even been hospitalized.

Kittyands34 karma

What did it feel like to have the virus in comparison to the flu?

zwschlei75 karma

The first couple of days felt like the flu. After that I knew I was sicker.

zwschlei32 karma

I have 5 minutes left answering questions.

Balj31 karma

How many of the hospital workers wore full PPE (Gown, gloves, mask, n95, shield) when working with you vs reduced PPE (mask, gown, gloves)?

zwschlei67 karma

every person wore gown, gloves and mask-N95. Shields were not worn routinely unless I was coughing actively.

soggybottombuoy30 karma

Anything you recommend to speed up recovery time or ease the pain for those who don't have access to medical facilities?

God bless!

zwschlei60 karma

Rest/sleep, hydrate, eat protein. hopefully you aren't severely ill.

Damien_Karras_25 karma

Were there any moments where you felt like you might die ?

zwschlei64 karma

I thought I was in trouble as my oxygen levels were falling. I thought it could lead to a ventilator which at my age could lead to death.

TempehPurveyor23 karma

What is your advice to people who has symptoms but unable to get tested?

zwschlei60 karma

Do the same things that you would do as if you tested positive. Assume you are infected.

cutiebuns12 karma

Hi Dr. Schleien - thank you for all your work and willing to participate in this!

What are you most excited to do now that you're home?

How is your recovery and do you think there are permanent changes from this event?

Sending lots of love and virtual hugs! Please take care!

zwschlei20 karma

Hang out with my son.

Recovery going well, I hope there aren't residual effects.

Hugs to you too.

bacchuss899 karma

So this is probably lame that I havent looked it up myself but... what exactly are the risks and effects for children? And if I can throw on a second- has your staff been more or less affected by NYC'S shortening supply of medical staff and the fact that their patients are kids?

zwschlei30 karma

The risks and effects on children are clearly much less than adults. We have been in reasonably good shape at Northwell hospitals as we have redeployed many health care workers to where they are needed most. Saying that, it is still stressful for everyone seeing patients and quite tiring. don't underestimate the energy of putting on full PPE all day long.

Okaloha6 karma

What pharmace /drug can potentially treat or alleviate condition of covid patients from you experience?

zwschlei18 karma

We won't know until studies are completed.

moory-6 karma

Do you feel more encouraged to head back to work to care for patients knowing you don't face the risk of COVID-19 at this time?

zwschlei23 karma

We actually really don't know the relative risks yet for patients who have had the virus.

ForgottenPamphlet1 karma

What are your thoughts on opening schools early because children haven't been impacted as negatively as the older population? And a follow-up to that, I have a young child with asthma and MCD that reacts badly when he gets an infection or asthmatic reaction. How do you think Covid-19 would impact a patient like that?

zwschlei15 karma

Opening schools early is probably a mistake since the kids could be asymptomatic carriers and take it home to their parents, grandparents, etc. I would be careful with your child. May be at somewhat increased risk.