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Information Technology program graduate’s greatest fear is realized when he tests positive for coronavirus

September 16, 2020
Information Technology program graduate’s greatest fear is realized when he tests positive for coronavirus

Ramsey Florez made the move to information technology at Kaweah Delta District Hospital (KDDH) where he had worked for several years because he wanted to reduce the stress on his body from lifting and other physical support he previously provided pre and post-surgery patients. He had only been in his new IT position for a few months when Covid-19 triggered a significant increase in hospital census.

He could not help but feel some relief to be able to support the hospital’s patient services and care from a little safer distance. Even in his new role, Ramsey continued to take every precaution to guard against coronavirus exposure. But were there really any completely safe places in a town considered part of the Central Valley’s ‘hot spot’ of infection?

It was mid-July when he got an answer.

“I woke up Thursday, July 16th with a headache, sporadic cough and fever,” he says. “I called a nurse in Urgent Care (KDDH) and let them know I would wait outside (hospital).” Ramsey was taken inside, and swabbed for strep throat. X-rays were taken, and he was given a breathing treatment. Then he was set up for a Covid swab. Meanwhile, his x-rays came back ‘clear’ and he was given some Tylenol and sent home.

Friday morning his test came back positive for Covid. “I had already self-quarantined in my bedroom,” says Ramsey. He was hoping that would be enough and he could fight off the virus without further complication.  By the next day he was having chest pains. “It felt like someone was squeezing my heart; Sunday was worse. Monday, I felt like a fish out of water; I couldn’t breathe.”

His wife, Jessica, had kept their kids Ariel and Payton out of the bedroom, but now she had them wear protective masks.

Medical intervention was now inevitable. Ramsey returned to the hospital where he was moved from one tent outside the hospital to another set up, especially to treat Covid patients. There were more lab tests, more x-rays. “An ER doctor finally told me, ‘Covid is all over your lungs, and I’m concerned about your heart.’” The prognosis was not optimistic. “He told me, ‘We know how to treat this now. A couple of months back you would have been on your death bed and I would have told you to call your family and tell them goodbye.’”

Instead, Ramsey was given antibiotics through an IV, vitamins, Tylenol for fever and oxygen was administered. At 2:00 AM he was finally admitted to a private room. His condition did not seem to improve. A hi-flow level of pure oxygen was delivered via canula.

“The doctor came in and told me I was not getting any better,” says Ramsey. “He told me they wanted to move me to ICU and ‘vent’ me (intubate and put on a ventilator), but I asked him to give me one more day. I already knew the percentages of survival (once someone is placed on a ventilator).” When the doctor came back later that day it was decided that Ramsey would get an IV of plasma with antibodies. “I signed the paperwork and waited,” says Ramsey.

It took a couple of days to feel the effects of the plasma transfusion. “It was not a big leap, but I didn’t feel as weak and my fever broke,” says Ramsey.

Ramsey was in the hospital for almost three weeks. “I could have no visitors, but I could call my wife and tell her what was going on,” he says. The first week and a half, he could only send her an occasional text because he did not have the depth of breath to speak. “Coworkers would come by, say ‘hi’ then be quick to leave,” he remembers.

While Ramsey was in the hospital both Jessica and their 11-year old daughter, Ariel, became symptomatic and subsequently tested positive for Covid. “As soon as they started symptoms, they got swabbed,” says Ramsey. “They had fever, cough, sore throat and headache, but didn’t get it as bad as me. They started taking vitamins C and D and zinc to boost their immune system, and my daughter got better after a few days and my wife in about a week.”

It was a happy day when Ramsey was finally discharged from the hospital and got to go home.

Ramsey is still pushing through his recovery. “I’m hoping to get off oxygen after a couple of weeks, but it’s day-by-day.” His return to work date is still uncertain.

“I’m not afraid at all to go back to the hospital,” he says of returning to his IT position. “I was afraid when they were talking about putting me on the vent. I was scared; I’m still a little scared. I’m not sure what this is going to do to me – scar tissue in my lungs or other issues. But I’m not a quitter.”

Rather unexpectedly, this pandemic’s very dark cloud left a little brighter light in Ramsey’s life. “I don’t want to focus on the negative aspects; I’d rather focus on what really matters. I’d rather focus on relationships with family and friends and not worry so much about the little things in life.”

He carries a powerful lesson learned. “Things can happen, but I’m still here. There’s still life.”

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