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Home for the Holidays

A JPS Health Network team member talks with a patient in their room.

Following a year of struggles they couldn’t possibly have imagined, JPS Health Network patients say they’re especially grateful this holiday season to have their health restored and to be home with their families for the holidays. 

“There were definitely times when I wasn’t sure we would both make it out of the hospital to be together again,” said Sean Freeman. He and his brother, Carlos, found themselves at JPS at the same time over the summer, fighting extended battles with COVID-19. Sean’s case was serious, but Carlos spent a month near death on a ventilator in the Intensive Care Unit. “I’ll never forget, after all Carlos went through, when they called to say he was off the ventilator and breathing on his own again. It seemed like a miracle.” 

Carlos said when he was finally freed from the hospital, it took him a long time to get back up to speed. But he’s finally starting to feel like himself again. 

To send patients home, especially at the holiday season, is also very sweet for JPS team members who become close to the people they care for. Especially ones who are in the hospital for a long time, which is often the case for those fighting COVID-19. 

“Because patients are positive with COVID-19 don’t get to be with their family while they’re in the hospital, we become their family,” RN Yolanda Contreras said. “It’s difficult behind the protective gear, but we work to make a human connection with our patients, so they know we’re here for them and we care about them. We develop relationships with them and we miss them when they leave us, but nothing makes us happier than to see them get to go home.” 

"Our goal is always to get our patients back to their family. That’s the victory for us -- and we have to celebrate every win to keep us moving forward."

Sometimes, when they’re really sick, it’s almost impossible for patients to imagine getting back to the level of health they once enjoyed. That makes getting there so much sweeter when they arrive. 

“When I left, I was on oxygen and a walker,” Carlos remembered. “It seemed like it was going to be impossible to get back to where I was before. I really didn’t think I could do it. But everyone was so caring and encouraging at JPS. They really gave me my life back. It’s the greatest gift anyone ever gave me.” 

Jose Juarez was admitted to JPS in mid-November with a case of COVID-19 that suddenly took a turn for the worse. 

“Everything was fine and then, suddenly, it wasn’t,” Juarez remembered. “The next thing I knew, they put me on a ventilator and I was on it for most of the time I was in the hospital.” 

The future suddenly seemed incredibly dark. But a month after he had to be hospitalized, Juarez was grateful to get to go home.  

“They sent me home with oxygen and have been calling to check on me three times a day,” Juarez said. “I’m getting better all the time and so happy that things are getting back to normal. It’s really nice that they still check on me after I went home. It makes me feel like they really care.” 

Contreras said it’s important to JPS doctors, nurses and other caregivers to see patients go home because it reminds them, no matter how tough the fight is, that this is a battle they will ultimately win. 

“When we see patients who were doing so poorly when they got here get to leave, it’s really inspiring,” Contreras said. “It gives us a feeling that we are making a difference and a sense of hope that everything is going to eventually be okay. Our goal is always to get our patients back to their family. That’s the victory for us -- and we have to celebrate every win to keep us moving forward.”