About a week after Patrick Hall received medication to treat what he believed to be a sinus infection, he realized something was off: He wasn’t getting any better.
Hall came home from work on June 29 and collapsed on the couch, telling his wife, Jaime, that he didn’t feel very well.
The next morning, he took a coronavirus test and received positive results. By the end of the week, he was rushed to the Intensive Care Unit at Ochsner Medical Center and intubated after two days in the COVID observation ward.
Over the next month, Jaime Hall chronicled her husband’s decline with daily Facebook posts, describing his condition and treatment in painstaking detail and asking for prayers.
Patrick Hall died on Aug. 5, surrounded by his family. He was 40 years old.
“A roller coaster is the only way I knew how to describe it,” his widow said. “We buckled up. Sometimes we had to tighten those seat belts a little tighter. We didn’t get off until the end.”
Hall’s wife and two children, ages 21 and 17, also tested positive for the virus after he was admitted to the hospital, though they were either asymptomatic or showed mild symptoms.
While the diagnosis was a shock, Jaime Hall said, one of the most painful elements of the last month was being forced to witness her giant protector of a husband deteriorate before her eyes. Patrick Hall stood 6 feet, 3 inches and weighed close to 300 pounds — a big man with a gentle spirit, his family said.
“It’s like my big, strong husband was just this frail man just lying in his bed,” Jaime Hall said, her voice breaking. “The virus just took everything from him.”
Patrick Hall was born in Baton Rouge but spent his childhood and adolescence in Destrehan in St. Charles Parish, where he developed an active love of all things outdoors. The middle child in a three-boy family, Hall was quiet and close to his mother — though she said he could also be a jokester.
“He always checked on me and never wanted me to be by myself,” said Cindy Oncale Hall, his mother. “When he was a friend to you, he was a friend always.”
Patrick Hall attended Southeastern Louisiana University, where he met his wife, Jaime, in an AOL chatroom. They discovered they had a communications class together and were both deeply involved in Greek Life on campus; it was not long before they fell in love.
While still at the university, the couple had their first child, Ashlyn.
“That’s when our lives changed forever,” Jaime Hall said. “She was a daddy’s girl from day one.”
Both finished school, got married and embarked on their life together in Central: They had another child, Landon, and Jaime Hall stayed home with the kids while Patrick Hall started a career in auto finance.
For Patrick Hall, his family was everything. He taught his children what he loved about the outdoors and sports, was always game to throw the ball around in the backyard and even tagged along on beach trips with his wife and children even though he notoriously hated sand.
When the coronavirus arrived, Jaime Hall said, her husband was someone who didn’t necessarily believe he had anything to fear. He was healthy and active, only 40 years old — why would COVID-19 do anything to him?
“It goes to show it can affect anybody,” his wife said.
For most of the harrowing month of his hospitalization, Hall’s family could not see him, because of precautions the hospital took to stop the virus’s spread. They relied on the medical staff at Ochsner to fill them in on his details and began to keep a notebook near the phone so they could take notes about any developments.
“They worked tirelessly,” his mother said. “They cried alongside us and laughed alongside us. I have no doubt they did everything possible that they could do for him.”
The Hall children also stepped up to help.
As her father lay in his hospital bed dying, Ashlyn Hall, 21, decided she had a chance to help others. Although her dad wasn’t responding positively to convalescent plasma treatment for the virus — where blood is collected from people who have recovered from the coronavirus and then given to current patients — she figured maybe someone else would benefit.
Both she and her brother Landon — who had both recovered from mild cases of the virus — donated plasma for other patients.
“I couldn’t help my dad, but I could help others,” Ashlyn Hall said. “So other people wouldn’t have to go through things we went through.”
After Patrick Hall was hospitalized, Jaime Hall’s posts, cataloging her husband’s treatments and condition, began to attract attention from thousands of people on Facebook. She said that as her husband fought to come home, the prayers started pouring in.
“Patrick’s just a middle class, average Joe,” she said. “He touched so many people. I believe Patrick’s purpose on this Earth was to bring people to prayer.”
To those with loved ones suffering in the hospital with the virus, Jaime Hall says to never give up hope and to trust in God. It is the only thing that has helped her family through the most difficult time in their lives.
“I’m not saying it’s easy, because there’s lots of people who say how strong we are,” she said. “No. It’s God. It’s our faith. That’s how we’re still going.”
In her family’s grief and pain, Jaime Hall said, she prays for the people who don’t believe that taking precautions from the virus is necessary.
“The research has been out there since March,” she said. “I respect people for whatever their decision may be, whatever political views they may have, but this is real. This virus is not going to go away after the election. The virus doesn’t discriminate.”