Greenwich Hospital’s Sandra Wainwright, MD, a self-described military brat and medical director of the Center for Hyperbaric Medicine and Wound Healing, was commended by the U.S. Navy on Monday for treating a sailor with debilitating long-haul symptoms of COVID-19.

U.S. Navy recruiter John Meehan of Southbury presented Dr. Wainwright with a commendation signed by the U.S. Commanding Officer of the Naval Reserve Recruiting Command for going above and beyond to treat Meehan when others could not. Meehan underwent 60 sessions of hyperbaric oxygen therapy, each two-and-a-half hours long, five days a week.

“I never met a doctor quite like Dr. Wainwright. She took the time to dig deeper and ask the right questions to make sure I was receiving the proper care,” said Meehan, who contracted COVID-19 in November 2022. He later developed long-haul symptoms such as chest pain, muscle twitches, neurological impairments and vision problems.

“People say COVID-19 is over,” added Meehan. “But it’s not truly over. People are still suffering.” Studies indicate that about 10 percent of people infected with COVID-19 experience long-haul symptoms for some unknown reason.Joining Meehan and his wife, Jennifer, at Greenwich Hospital were Lt. Matthew Bolton, New England regional supervisor of the Naval Reserve Recruiting Command, and U.S. Navy recruiters Julie Adkins, Enfield, Trey Dadzie, Rhode Island, and Richmond Aboagye, Boston.
The award was especially meaningful to Dr. Wainwright, whose father was a career Army officer who was wounded in combat during the Vietnam War. He retired as a Lt. Colonel. “I know what it is for those brave men and women to serve our country,” she said. “To receive such an honor from the U.S. Navy is beyond words. I’m so deeply touched by this presentation,” said Dr. Wainwright, who is a pioneer in the use of HBOT to treat COVID-19.

“My hope is that from a grass roots level the word gets out that hyperbaric medicine can dramatically improve and even cure long COVID-19,” added Dr. Wainwright. “If we can return these young viable people to their former selves and back to work again – that’s a huge win!”

Ellen Stacom, RN, HBOT safety officer, also received a U.S. Navy commendation for assisting Meehan during each session. “As the daughter of a Navy veteran, I’m proud to be the hyperbaric nurse who treated John,” she said. “To be able to help the COVID-19 long-haulers does my heart good.”

Greenwich Hospital is the only hospital in Connecticut and one of the few nationwide to use HBOT for this purpose. HBOT is a painless, noninvasive treatment during which patients breathe 100 percent oxygen under increased atmospheric pressure. The increased oxygen levels in the bloodstream help to boost the body’s natural healing process, stimulate the growth of new blood vessels, reduce inflammation, and aid in the fight against infection.

Cited by: Greenwich Free Press