While the COVID-19 pandemic has cast a shadow of gloom and despair over 2020, there is still hope. As Hudson County continues to flatten the curve, many patients across the county are being released from the hospital as they recover.
Hudson Regional Hospital in Secaucus recently celebrated the release of one of its first COVID-19 patients as the situation at the facility begins to brighten.
The hospital’s first intubated COVID-19 patient, Pedro Gonzalez, was discharged from Hudson Regional Hospital earlier in the week after previously being on a ventilator for 22 days. Gonzalez joined the facility’s weekly briefing on April 24 to share his story.
“There are not enough words to express how grateful I am for the staff at Hudson Regional Hospital. From the moment I arrived there, everyone was very helpful,” Gonzalez said. “I don’t remember much of what really happened to me, but what I do know is that the doctors and nurses never gave up on me and helped me get back home to my family.”
Gonzalez apparently starting feeling sick on March 14. By March 18 his primary care doctor told him to go to Hudson Regional Hospital because they had the test.
According to Hudson Regional Hospital, he was admitted immediately and by the next day he was in ICU struggling to breathe, and ultimately intubated or put on a ventilator.
Meanwhile, wife Victoria reached out to everyone she knew to pray to him via social media. They even prayed for Gonzalez on 99.1 Star, and his son got Father Rocky on a national rosary hotline to pray for him.
On Easter morning, their prayers were answered. Gonzalez’s doctor at the hospital called Victoria screaming that he’s off the ventilator. She then got to FaceTime with her husband for the first time since he was intubated using a nurse’s phone.
Victoria said that the staff was great and never lost hope.
“With all my heart I want to say thank you to everyone at Hudson Regional hospital for all their hard work and dedication and for keeping me alive,” Pedro Gonzalez said. “God bless you all.”
Gonzalez’s recovery is one of many at Hudson Regional Hospital that keep staff optimistic in the face of the pandemic, according to President and CEO Dr. Nizar Kifaieh.
“Seeing Pedro recover and go home to his family after being on a ventilator for 22 days was very uplifting and inspirational to everyone in the hospital.”
Normally, the hospital refrains from rushing to put patients on ventilators until absolutely necessary, underlining the severity of Gonzalez’s case.
“Our multi-disciplinary team tries every modality with our COVID-19 patients, using the ventilator as a last option,” Dr. Kifaieh said. “Our goal is to keep patients from being ventilator-dependent to give them a better chance at recovery.”
COVID-19 admissions decrease
The number of patients recovering from the virus at the hospital and subsequently discharged has increased over the past two weeks. In conjunction, COVID-19 related admissions has decreased by 80 percent, according to Dr. Kifaieh.
Dr. Kifaieh said more patients with non-COVID-19 issues are starting to use the hospital’s Emergency Room again.
At the briefing, officials said the drive-through testing site at Hudson Regional Hospital is testing one resident approximately every 1.7 seconds, but the number of calls to county COVID-19 screening centers has been decreasing over the past two weeks.
According to Dr. Kifaieh, the hospital has begun to resume business in other departments as the pandemic becomes more manageable.
“While we continue to treat COVID-19 patients in an isolated unit and our drive-through testing site will remain open, all other departments at the hospital are ready for resumption of business,” continued Dr. Kifaieh. “We’re fully staffed to address all the community’s healthcare needs with some units having no staff cross-over to make sure we keep certain areas clean from COVID-19 exposure, and the staff in those units are tested regularly.”
In collaboration with the Hudson County Department of Health, the hospital is also preparing a program to administer the IGG and IGM antibody tests to begin upon guidance from the CDC. Antibodies from the plasma of COVID-19 survivors may hold the key to discovering a cure or vaccine for the virus.
“Globally, we have seen the unpredictable way this virus has affected patients and the random manor in which certain patients would develop certain complications,” Dr. Kifaeih said. “We still are lacking the ability to scientifically explain the behavior of the virus and its clinical manifestations on patients.”
Any Hudson County residents experiencing COVID-19 symptoms are advised to call 201-388-1097 or 646-862-1161 for a pre-screening in order to get tested at Hudson Regional Hospital in Secaucus. The drive-thru testing site continues to operate Monday-Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. by appointment only.
The hospital is still seeking additional help during the pandemic. Any interested volunteers with nursing backgrounds can call (201) 392-3100 for more information.
For updates on this and other stories, check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Daniel Israel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.