30th April 2020
Roberto sat in the patient ward of our Emergency Field Hospital in Central Park and thanked our medical team for helping him in his fight against coronavirus. Looking around him, he said, “Honestly, truth to God, I have no clue where I would be if I weren’t here. I think I would’ve probably given up.”
Roberto, 29, grew up in Queens and is among thousands of New Yorkers directly affected by the pandemic that has swept through their beloved city. He and his wife started to experience coronavirus symptoms a week after they went to a dinner party with a few close family members.
His wife had a fever for two days but recovered quickly; however, his health deteriorated and he suffered from a fever and body aches.
As he watched the health crisis unfold across the city, he never imagined it would impact his life. Roberto said he has never seen anything as devastating as COVID-19.
“That’s the scary part,” he said. “Even though you don’t have any symptoms, you could still have it and infect other people.”
Initially, Roberto tried to convince himself that the symptoms would pass. But deep down, he knew the anguish he was facing was a result of the deadly virus.
“I felt so weak. It was worse at night because you have a higher fever and you feel more pain. It’s horrible,” he said.
After a week of fighting the virus, he realised he needed help. He went to his local urgent care to ask for a ventilator to aid with his breathing.
After the doctors reviewed an X-ray of his lungs, he was diagnosed with pneumonia and sent home to rest and recover. When his health continued to decline, it was impossible for Roberto to ignore his fear that he had contracted COVID-19.
“I told my wife: ‘I’m not getting any better. It’s really painful for me to walk around the house when it shouldn’t be like this,’” he explained.
Roberto decided to walk from his home to the local Mount Sinai hospital. He walked the streets alone—fighting to keep his breathing steady until he safely reached the Mount Sinai emergency room. The seemingly short journey of a couple blocks felt like an eternity.
“It was painful to me, and I was getting dizzy on the streets,” Roberto said. “I wanted to ask for help, but I just felt like asking for help would only get someone else infected. So, I decided to go by myself.”
Roberto’s oxygen levels were at 65 percent when he arrived to Mount Sinai Queens. The nurses welcomed him and gave him an oxygen mask to improve his breathing as they assessed his symptoms.
Two days later, he was transferred to our Emergency Field Hospital. Our nurses and doctors provided him critical care immediately when he arrived—immediately monitoring his saturation levels using an oxygen pulse oximeter.
To increase his flow of oxygen, Roberto was put on a nasal cannula and our teams continued to monitor his symptoms—dedicated to helping him recover.
“If I was in their shoes, this is how would I want to be treated,” explained Katie Kunnen, a nurse assisting Roberto with his recovery.
As a Christian, Roberto finds strength in Psalm 27:3-4—a Bible passage written by our staff and hung above his bed.
“All these Bible verses on the wall give me even more strength,” Roberto explained. “I love that everyone here believes in the Bible and believes in God. That is definitely what has kept me fighting,”
Samaritan’s Purse is working alongside Mount Sinai Hospitals to bring critical medical surge capacity and relief to New York City families impacted by COVID-19. Nurse Katie Kunnen is amongst the more than 100 disaster assistance response specialists on the ground in New York—providing the highest level of quality care and dignity to patients suffering from the coronavirus.
Working 12-hour shifts, Katie explained that that she is in constant prayer that God will sustain the team.
“When you feel exhausted, it’s important to remember you don’t have to do this in anxiety or stress. I can do this in grace and peace,” she shared.
Each day, doctors and nurses boldly step into the hospital to meet the immediate needs of their patients. Those needs include communication, which means our medical team must navigate conversation despite the barriers caused by many levels of personal protective equipment (PPE). We’ve become a support system for patients in a place where family members are not allowed to enter.
Despite the challenges and risks, this team courageously remains committed to helping patients fight against the deadly virus.
Please continue to pray for those sickened with COVID-19 and for our medical personnel who are providing care and support in Jesus’ Name.