MedWatch Today: Merced Teacher and Father Hospitalized Together for COVID-19

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One hundred and eight days is how long one woman was at Community Regional Medical Center fighting for her life from COVID-19. Thanks to the excellent care from the team at Community Regional, Michelle Delgado survived, and after more than three months she was finally able to go home.

When Michelle’s 79-year old father was hospitalized for COVID-19, she didn’t know she would be following right behind him.

“We brought him on February 19th, and it was really hard because we just had to leave him at the tent, because that’s the protocol,” said Michelle.

The teacher from Merced learned she too had COVID-19, and her symptoms were getting bad.

Michelle explained what she said, “I’ll be fine, I’ll be fine. Come Saturday, my oxygen levels were so low, I told my son, ‘You gotta get me down there’.”

Michelle ended up in the intensive care unit right alongside her father Frank. Dr. Mohamed Fayed explains Michelle had severe respiratory failure.

“Respiratory failure, meaning the amount of oxygen going through the blood is low, and she was requiring really high amount of oxygen, we call it high flow oxygen. Despite that, despite the therapy we gave her, she continued to progress and she went to the ICU and had mechanical ventilation,” said Dr. Fayed.

Michelle found solace in being near her father in the ICU.

“I was next door to my dad, and we had taught next door to each other for, I want to think like 18 years at Tenaya in Merced… I would talk to him through the wall… I could feel like his energy, and I would talk to him and I would cry like, ‘dad, you gotta get better’. But unfortunately, he didn’t make it,” cried Michelle.

It would be an uphill battle for Michelle to stay alive. Dr. Fayed said Michelle needed to receive treatment from the ECMO machine when mechanical ventilation didn’t work.

Dr. Fayed said, “ECMO is an artificial lung that takes the blood from the vein, puts oxygen and both carbon dioxide, and puts it back in the patient with catheters.”

ECMO stands for “extracorporeal membrane oxygenation”. It takes a team to provide ECMO to a patient. A cardiothorasic surgeon, critical care doctors, a highly skilled nursing staff, respiratory therapists and physical therapists are all involved. ECMO is a unique treatment for COVID, offered only at Community Regional.

“When I talked to her at the beginning is, ‘Are you gonna be able to save my life?’, and I said, ‘Yes’, and of course, you know, that’s a difficult circumstances when you come to that level of illness,” Dr. Fayed stated.

Michelle’s lungs finally started to heal and improve, and she began therapy at the Leon S. Peters Rehabilitation Center. Nurse practitioner Wendy Baker recalls moments with Michelle.

Wendy said, “We had some setbacks and just scares where we weren’t sure that we were gonna be able to get her to where she is today.”

With her father’s memory beside her, Michelle was able to leave the hospital, healthy and grateful.

She ended, “I think my dad gave the last bit of his energy to me so I could fight the battles that were to come while I was in the ICU.”

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