By Nicole Allshouse
An Alabama family is spreading awareness about options people have once they are admitted into the hospital for COVID treatments after their own experience changed their perspective.
Laura Sink grew up in a home respecting medicine and medical professionals. Her father, after all, was a surgeon.
So, when COVID-19 hit the Sink family in August 2021, she did not panic. First, Laura was diagnosed positive. Then Laura's husband, Andy Sink, got the same news.
But their paths to recovery were drastically different.
Laura Sink tested positive on Aug. 4 and immediately quarantined in their Birmingham home. She had a prescription of Ivermectin from her internist. Laura says with the early treatment, she began feeling better and continued to heal rapidly.
Andy Sink tested positive on Aug. 8 and immediately quarantined.
"He too started taking Ivermectin but unfortunately was put on a preventative or low dose, instead of a higher dose for COVID-positive patients. Andy was on a list to receive monoclonal antibodies and waited for five days." Laura Sink said.
One week later, on Aug. 15, Laura Sink recalled taking Andy Sink to the hospital because he had a hard time breathing. Immediately, Andy Sink was admitted to the hospital and diagnosed with COVID Pneumonia. Laura Sink said doctors began giving Andy Sink the highly talked about drug, Remdesivir. During Andy Sink's four-day hospital stay, he got three doses of that drug. Laura Sink said the drug was not working and there was no other option given to her husband for treatment.
Caleb Crosby: Unfortunately – in this present moment with COVID-19 – we do not know what mitigation attempts or treatment options will be deemed successful, what will be deemed ineffective, or what will even be determined to be harmful in the future. COVID-19, historically speaking, is an incredibly new disease and we will not for some time, maybe decades, have the data and research to know exactly what helps patients when they start to exhibit symptoms and what harms them. Read more in We must prevent Government malpractice in the 1819 News Opinion section.
Dr. Chad Mathis: Progressives have always wanted control of healthcare in Washington, and this vaccine mandate provides us with a glimpse of what Medicare for all will bring us: a choice for none. Read more in Vaccine mandates are not the solution in the 1819 Opinion section.
“By this time, he was on day 12 of COVID and was in terrible shape,” Laura Sink said. “And we were not sure of his future outcome. Friends, including other doctor friends, were calling and texting me to get him out of the hospital, to get him home and on other medications.”
Hospitals in America usually follow the National Institutes of Health (NIH) guidelines to be protected against litigation. The NIH is a government agency. Currently, the NIH's typical protocol includes Remdesivir as the preferred treatment, so doctors all over the country may feel their hands are tied, although traditionally hospitals give physicians the privilege to practice medicine the way they see fit.
“I don't have an issue with hospitals,” Laura Sink said. “I have a problem that doctors can't be doctors anymore. They are working for a bureaucracy - the government, and once patients are admitted with COVID-19, there is no second opinion. You are on lockdown and can only take the medicine given. In fact, Andy was even denied monoclonal antibodies upon entering the hospital. They are a huge part of early treatment and Andy was on a list to receive them from another medical institution. However once entering the hospital, he was denied that right.”
In a written statement to 1819 News, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID), which is one of the 27 institutes and centers that make up the NIH, said, “The COVID-19 Treatment Guidelines have been developed to provide clinicians with guidance on how to care for patients with COVID-19. Because clinical information about the optimal management of COVID-19 is evolving quickly, these guidelines will be updated frequently as published data and other authoritative information become available … Finally, it is important to stress that the rated treatment recommendations in these guidelines should not be considered mandates. The choice of what to do or not to do for an individual patient is ultimately decided by the patient and their provider.”
Laura Sink said she cried and prayed to God for answers, remembering it as the hardest decision of her life.
"My dad was a surgeon, so pulling someone out of the hospital is not natural for me,” Laura Sink added. “Going to the hospital is where you should go to get healed."
Laura Sink said she didn't feel like she had a choice. She brought her husband home, and Dr. Jordan Vaughn began caring for him. Vaughn said he gave Andy Sink multiple medications, including adding an anticoagulant and added additional anti-inflammatory drugs like Colchicine. Vaughn also continued Andy Sink on high-dose steroids (methylprednisone) and gave him home-administered oxygen. Andy Sink also took Budesonide, Doxycycline, and Eliquis.
Vaughn said if there is nothing else Alabamians remember from the Sinks' experience, he desperately hopes they remember this:
"The problem is two-fold,” Vaughn stated. “The biggest issue is not enough people know about early treatment options. And there are plenty of them. Early treatment reduces hospitalization by 87%.
“All hospitals should be using multi-drug sequence therapy. In any viral illness, no one drug is curative. We treat with multiple therapies in sequence, based on where a patient is in the course of the disease.
“We do this for every other respiratory viral illness, including the flu, so why are we not doing it with Covid-19? In Alabama, we have access to these therapies and should be treating patients early and aggressively with them in the outpatient setting. Starting with treatment with monoclonal antibodies as early as possible after diagnosis, followed by other medications in sequence. Those medications include nebulization, steroids, anti-inflammatories and anti-clotting medications. My goal is to treat the patient in the outpatient setting so they never have to visit the hospital.”
Vaughn also said he believes people are not researching medications because they don’t realize they have the opportunity to be their own advocate.
"They are simply trusting hospitals,” Vaughn said. “They assume that because they are in a hospital, every available treatment option on the market will be exhausted, which is not always the case. Hospitals in America are protected if they follow the NIH guidelines. If they don't follow the NIH, they put themselves more at risk. It’s important to mention (that) the Remdesivir hospitals are pushing out costs about $3,500 per therapy, which certainly helps their bottom line."
Vaughn encourages people to think about this for a minute.
"Remdesivir is an anti-viral, so by the time patients usually get to the hospital, the virus itself is gone and other medical issues have set in,” Vaughn said. “See the problem? In fact, a study in Japan, from Sept 2021 looked at approximately 12,500 hospitalized COVID -19 patients. The study showed it (Remdesivir) had no positive effect on the clinical outcome and reduction of ventilator requirement."
Laura Sink is confident that Vaughn, who cared for Andy Sink, and another doctor out of Huntsville who monitored Andy Sink’s condition, collectively saved his life after leaving the hospital.
"I only have one goal in talking about my experience, and it's to build awareness,” said Laura Sink. “Everyone is fighting over masks and vaccines. What we all should be focusing on is early treatment for COVID-19. No one is talking about it. And the handful of people that are brave enough to address early treatments are getting shut down and censored.”
Laura Sink urges people to talk to their primary care physician and internist. The views expressed by the Sinks should not be considered as a substitute for a physician's advice.
“If they are not using early treatment protocols, find a doctor who is!” Laura Sink said. “Do the research and learn about early treatment. It can save your life. And don't solely rely on any hospital. There is no doubt in my mind that God saved my husband, Andy, so his story could help save other people.
“Thank heavens for Dr. Vaughn in Birmingham and other doctors like him, and the additional, different therapies we got at home. And had Andy known about early treatments before getting infected, we would have done them the second a positive COVID test returned. I hope this article at least saves one life by someone knowing what we had to learn the hard way."