As a member of the Sauk Prairie Healthcare Foundation Board, local entrepreneur Caleb Maier has a keen interest in the local healthcare system. For the last month, the Foundation has been engaged in a fundraising campaign to purchase supplies and equipment to help care for COVID-19 patients. Maier is in a unique position to really get behind that effort because he personally survived the virus.

His experience started in the early days of the pandemic. At the time he was diagnosed, there was only one other confirmed case of COVID-19 in Sauk County.

It was mid-March and the virus was just starting to gain ground in Wisconsin. Maier had been vigilant about taking precautions and washing his hands often. He had several reasons to be wary of the virus — he has asthma, which at that time, was thought to put him at greater risk for serious complications. He was also concerned for his family — his wife Samantha is pregnant with the couple’s second child and their 18-month-old Cecilia, affectionately known as “CeCe,” were also at home.

Despite his precautions, Caleb was exposed to the virus.

“It was March 15, a Sunday night, and I was having some trouble breathing,” he said. “On Monday, I could not take a deep breath. I have asthma, so I know what not being able to take a breath feels like. I used my rescue inhaler, a steroid inhaler and a nebulizer, and I was not getting any better.”

On Tuesday, he had a fever of 102. Maier is a veteran, and receives his healthcare through the VA. He called his physician, who thought it was possible that he had COVID-19. That night, his fever hit 105.

The following day, he was admitted to the VA hospital in Madison where he stayed overnight. The fever, though not gone, had stabilized and he returned home on Thursday. Then on Friday, he lost his sense of taste and smell, which is now known as a classic symptom of COVID-19.

To protect his family, Maier self-quarantined in the basement of their home for 14 days. The couple got creative to keep themselves safely distanced. Samantha sent meals to him using a bucket on a rope.

“I felt like I was in jail,” he said.

Fortunately, no one else in the family came down with the virus. Now healthy, Maier said he has some lingering effects with breathing and low energy. And he cautions others.

“There are still people who believe COVID-19 is not in our community. I’m here to tell you, It’s here, it’s real and it’s not over yet,” he said.

Maier encourages everyone to do their part in fighting the virus and supporting the people suffering.

“If you know someone who is going through this, be part of their support system,” he said. “And by all means, help your local hospital, help your neighbors and the people who care for them.”

Sauk Prairie Healthcare Foundation is raising funds to meet the demands of caring for local patients with COVID-19. It is purchasing disinfectant equipment and solutions, protective gear for workers including respiratory face protection for the mouth, nose and eyes, and medical equipment and supplies such as IV pumps, monitors and filters.

The equipment and supplies alone cost close to $170,000. The community is encouraged to give at www.saukprariehealthcare.org/give and select “greatest needs.” Or send a check with “Greatest Needs” in the memo to: Sauk Prairie Healthcare Foundation, 260 26th Street, Prairie du Sac, WI 53578.

The Sauk Prairie Healthcare Foundation is thankful for any support given.

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