August 14, 2021
Monday, August 2, Redmond colleagues were thrilled to receive a surprise visit from former patient, Alex Flores, a 29-year-old COVID-19 survivor from Redmond Regional Medical Center.
On December 7, 2020, Alex came to Redmond’s Emergency Room after testing positive for COVID-19 and experiencing trouble breathing. He was admitted to the hospital and immediately placed in ICU East, where he would spend the next 18 days in COVID-19 isolation. As his breathing worsened, he was soon placed on a ventilator with heavy sedation – Alex was the youngest COVID-19 positive patient in the hospital at the time.
Redmond nurse, Daniel Burton, recalls Alex’s time in ICU East: “When Alex first came to the hospital, we were all very hopeful because he was so young. We wanted to make a difference, but after his first week at the hospital, he was only getting worse. After two weeks, his chest X-rays were poor and his health continued to slowly decline. His heart rate kept dropping and he just kept deteriorating. I remember thinking, ‘We’re going to lose this kid.’”
During his time in isolation, Alex’s parents would drive to the hospital parking lot every day to video chat with Alex’s nursing team. “It all happened so fast,” said Alex’s mother, Rozio Flores, “It’s so hard – when you can’t see your baby.”
On Christmas Eve, Alex’s parents were able visit him in the hospital for the first time. “Alex’s nurse, Daniel, was incredible,” said Alex’s mother, “He came to the hospital on both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day to check on Alex. He made our 2020 Christmas better.”
As his health continued to deteriorate, plans of placing Alex on an ECMO machine, a respiratory machine that allows the heart and lungs to rest, began to arise. “This was an end of the road decision,” stated Daniel, “There is a very narrow spectrum of qualifications for ECMO, and at one point, Alex did not qualify.” On December 30, after 24 days at Redmond, Alex was placed on an ECMO machine and transferred to Centennial Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee, the very next day.
Today, nearly eight months after his hospital admission, Alex walked into Redmond with his parents by his side, this time as a special visitor. In a heartfelt reunion, Alex was able to meet several of the nurses and physicians that cared for him for the very first time.
Though he is still gaining his strength, Alex’s health has improved tremendously. “I’m feeling a lot better than I did before,” said Alex. Alex’s mother commented, “He no longer has to walk with a cane, but COVID weakened his lungs significantly. Even now, his lung capacity is only back up to 70%.”
“It’s been a long recovery,” said Alex’s father, “It’s just going to take time to heal, but Redmond gave me my son back; Everyone in this hospital knew about my son. I’ve had a lot of people tell me that COVID isn’t a big deal, but they’ve never had a loved one go through what my son has gone through.”
Redmond Nurse Jake Nix, who also cared for Alex during his time in ICU, said it well, “It’s pretty amazing to see someone who was on pressers, sedated on a vent…Someone who you had a feeling in your gut that was not going to make it…walk into the hospital and shake your hand.”