HOUSTON - A special reunion at Memorial Hermann Southeast between a patient and his family with a group of medical workers. They filled many roles during the pandemic, stretching their caretaking abilities to help him fight even harder to survive.
When Eddie Iniesta arrived, there were hugs all around him. He's still recovering from COVID-19 but was treated for serious effects from it, between December to February at Memorial Hermann Southeast.
"They told me they weren't going to go day-by-day, but hour-by-hour," he exclaims. "They weren't expecting me to live. It was bad."
It took a lot to pull Eddie through, including a compassionate, loving team of medical workers. Now he's happy to meet back up with the ladies who went above and beyond during his hospital stay. He delivers an important message to them.
"I love you like your family to me now," Eddie said. "I feel like they made a difference because there was a day that I was fighting for my life. I was having trouble breathing, and I called my wife and I asked her to pray for me."
"She said that she just finished praying and that God told her He was going to send me an angel," he continued. "Not even five minutes later, Ms. Irene walked in to help me, and it was like wait, what are the odds. Ms. Irene prayed for me. She prayed with me! She gave me her own little sermon in the room."
Eddie says it took plenty of medicine to save him and moments like that. Irene believes he needed more than her medical knowledge.
"I wanted to make sure that he knew that I was here to help him and to support him in any way that I could," states Irene Ponce, CNA.
Eddie says those prayers worked. He's thankful his medical team morphed into the family when visitors weren't allowed during the pandemic.
"I didn't see my family for five weeks. It was the hardest and longest I've ever been without seeing my wife, son, and other family members. It was just hard," explains Eddie.
Kendall Fox is a nurse, who says her own experience suffering from COVID helped her understand how Eddie was feeling, making it easier to comfort him and push him to get stronger.
"He's just so drained and worn out, and I just remember, going in there and being his voice for the day and just be like, you're getting up today, you're getting in this chair, we're eating food," remembers Kendall.
Krysta Harper is another nurse who went above and beyond by boosting his mental health.
"We have a kid around the same age, so not talking about things in the hospital, not talking about COVID and what's going on here, and we'd walk to the window, look out the window and talk about his kid," states Krysta.
Lauren Smith is a patient advocate, who says she prayed at Eddie's door every day, before seeing him. As soon as he tested negative from COVID-19, she pushed to get his family in for a visit.
"I needed him to have something to hold on to, so I called his wife and got his son up here," explains Lauren with tears in her eyes. "I don't want to get emotional but whenever he saw his son for the first time, this is what we were working for, this is what we were fight for. It was a moment that touched all of our hearts."
Eddie's wife sent care packages and special meals to the hospital and his son made cards for the magical medical team. They have plans for those special cards. "It's going on my mantel, along with a flower that Eddie gave me," exclaims Lauren
"I have a box with special cards that I keep and when I'm having a bad day, you can open it and remember you're loved too," adds Kendall.
Support from Eddie's workplace made a huge difference, as well.
"My boss at Clear the Air was very supportive of me. He called me every other day and prayed with me pray for me," says Eddie. "He would send me scripture and text message his church was praying for me. All my colleagues were praying for me too and they even raised money to help me, because I couldn't work for three months."
The pandemic has been emotionally trying for healthcare workers, but meaningful moments, like Eddie's recovery, help keeps them going.
"We just saw so much negative stuff, and he kept saying, I'm going to be the miracle, and he really was," says Krysta.
Eddie tells us he lost about 45 pounds during his hospital stay. His once short hair and beard also grew out after being sick for so long. He says his wife loves the new look, so he's not getting a haircut, and he has kept his sense of humor by stating, happy wife, happy life. His doctor believes it will take about a year for him to fully recover.
For more information on Memorial Hermann, click here. You can also learn more about the conditions of COVID-19 and frequently asked questions about the vaccine here.