SURVIVING COVID-19 by Jose Lopez
It has been two months since Josue Martinez was released from Southern California Hospital where he received his last official, in-hospital care, to help him recover from COVID-19. He is now going through intense sessions of rehabilitation, while living at home, to help him continue to recover from the damages done by COVID-19. Although far from a full recovery, his last session will be on July 31st. Any of the much needed rehabilitation therapy after that date will be his own responsibility to pay out of pocket, which for Josue is impossible without a job or income.
In a shift from receiving the emergency care that saved his life from COVID-19, Josue recently went to his first regular doctor appointment at Martin Luther King Hospital. This is where he is supposed to receive the care needed to address all of his day-to-day health issues. On one hand he was trying to enter the hospital with a positive mind, however he found this difficult considering that this was the same hospital that turned him away when he first tried to get emergency care for COVID-19.
In an attempt to bring COVID-19 survivors together, Josue set up the Facebook page, "COVID-19 Survivors Support Group." He is hoping that it will help create a safe space for survivors where they can share their stories and support one another. It is here where he shared some thoughts regarding his recent visit to the doctor which offers some insight in his struggle to receive the appropriate healthcare for his situation.
In the post Josue shared the following - "Today Wednesday, July 22, 2020 I had my first actual doctor's visit post COVID. I was skeptical about it because this visit would take place at the hospital [where] I wasn’t given service when I first was seeking medical help with my COVID symptoms.
As I arrived to the hospital I was nervous because of the anxiety the hospital gives me now. I was greeted at the white tents outside of Martin Luther King Hospital (MLK) with a 'Thank You tote.' I checked in and made my way inside. As I got to the floor where my appointment would take place, I was immediately checked in and called in 15 minutes after. It was a quick process, which I liked because I figured it would limit us to being exposed, in and out.
I was brought into a small, cold room where my vitals were taken, but instead of being able to sit on the hospital table, I was told to sit on my walker because the table was broken. This freaked me out just for the fact that I was here for a check up and they have broken equipment? After my vitals were [taken] the nurse took me to another room where I was to wait for the doctor.
A few minutes pass and a student doctor comes in to do my check up. We took a good 15-20 minutes going over my symptoms, pain and concerns I was having. She was really understanding and nice. She said she would talk with my doctor and discuss my problems and be back with her.
I waited another 5 minutes and she walked in with my doctor. My doctor provided the same check up routines with me and questions as well. It took a [good] 5- 7 minutes and she walked out. I continued to wait for them to come back and give me some answers, but instead my doctor came back to just tell me to go get blood drawn and she’d hear from me in 3 months and left. I was confused and unsatisfied. I had a bunch of questions and concerns and nothing was answered. How are my lungs? What can I do for my level 10 pain? What’s wrong with the discoloration in my foot? All [these] questions [were] left unanswered..."
Josue's story highlights why he has clear reasons that he does not fully trust the healthcare system in which he depends upon. Reflecting on his personal struggle, he further shared some other concerns over this whole COVID-19 pandemic. He stated that it seems that younger people are not being as cautious as they should and could be, which can serve to continue the spread of the virus only to infect more and more people leading to lifelong health consequences or even death for many.
"Young people think that they can't catch this virus and they don't really think about the consequences that it's going to affect those around them." Josue adds that,"The spread of the virus just continues and continues. If those people are not taking care of themselves, [there's] never gonna be an end to this. Eventually, everyone will get infected and you'll see the cases go up."
When asked where he feels that he contracted the virus, Josue is confident that he was exposed to COVID-19 at his work place, because his only routine consisted of going between work and home where his girlfriend would be the one driving him. More importantly, he recalled a phone call made to his store that informed the management of an infected customer that had recently shopped at his store located on Main Street and Rose Avenue in Venice, California.
Just as Josue himself never thought that he would become infected, even though he took precautions to protect himself from being exposed, there are others out there who do not think they will become sick. There those who are so confident about that, that they are actively living their lives in a pre-pandemic lifestyle.
Josue said, "You still see people out, like going out, not wearing masks, not social distancing. Pretty much living like their life as if this pandemic isn't real.
e has made great steps towards recovery, he is still struggling with being able to stand, sit for long periods of time, as well as his ability to write. He has shared that this is concerning because his physical therapy sessions are coming to an end which has left him unsure of what his recovery will look like after that. As the only bread winner in his family, he understands that this will not only be a physical struggle of recovery, but also an economic one.
Josue is still hopeful that his employer, CVS, will step forward to do the right thing and help by investing in his health and recovery. He believes that a business should stand by their employees who become infected on the job.
DISCLOSURE: To be ethical and fair, this is not just any report on any person. This is a story that I have close ties to. Josue is a close friend who happens to be struggling through what so many others are struggling with around the world during this pandemic. As patients struggle to receive the care that they need, it is apparent the system has flaws. I hope that there will be a common solution that will humanize and support all the people and families who have been hurt by this disease so we can all move forward in a healthy way as a global community.