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'Don't lose hope': An ICU nurse finally goes home after battling COVID for eight months

Merlin Pambuan, 66, spent three months in the ICU herself. After weeks of physical therapy, she was finally able to walk out of the hospital.

'Don't lose hope': An ICU nurse finally goes home after battling COVID for eight months
Image Source: Twitter/ AbdulsatarBoch1

Merlin Pambuan is an intensive care unit nurse. Unfortunately, she has spent the last eight months battling the deadly Coronavirus at St. Mary Medical Center in Long Beach, California. After a long-drawn battle, she was finally able to return home on Monday, to much applause as she walked out of the hospital. After all, she was not simply a patient at St. Mary, she was one of their own, Good Morning America reports. Pambuan, aged 66, has worked at the hospital for just about four decades. She even treated COVID patients there before she became one herself.

 



 

 

During her eight months of treatment, the nurse spent three months in the ICU. As part of her treatment, she was put into a medically induced coma and subsequently placed on a ventilator. However, she spent her last few weeks at the hospital undergoing physical therapy in order to be able to walk again. Her battle for recovery was not an easy one; her doctor claimed that she came close to death "multiple times." Dr. Maged Tanios, a pulmonary and critical care specialist at St. Mary, said in an interview with Reuters. "I would say this happened at least half a dozen times, that she was very near death." The hospital had a particularly "hard time keeping her oxygen compatible with life."

 



 

 

Despite her tough journey in the hospital, she had a message of inspiration for other patients who had contracted Coronavirus: "Don't lose hope," she affirmed. "Just fight. Fight. Because look at me. I'm going home, and I'm walking." The message is particularly poignant as Long Beach is essentially at its breaking point, Mayor Robert Garcia confirmed. He said on Wednesday during a press briefing, "The COVID crisis in Long Beach is not getting better, in fact, it's getting worse." He even made special mention of the hospital staff at St. Mary Medical Center. "They are struggling," he stated. "Their doctors and their nurses are pleading for your support. They are seeing more and more patients every day, and they're doing everything they can to provide excellent care."

 



 

 

On Tuesday alone, Long Beach reported a total of 14 deaths, which was a record number for the region. It is double the previous record. At present, the city is just beginning to see the impacts of large congregations during Thanksgiving. Hospitalization rates remain high throughout the state of California and the number of Coronavirus cases has surpassed 2 million. Dr. Mark Ghaly, the secretary of California's Health and Human Services Agency, claimed this is a reminder "that this virus continues to spread through our communities."

 



 

 

"Hospitals are full, ICU beds are few, people are dying," he stated. "The simplest thing we can do, but also the most significant, is to stay home. We are the first line of defense against this virus and we must act now." On Wednesday, hospitals in the Long Beach area were at 1.5 percent ICU capacity, while regional ICU capacity was at zero percent. Morgues, too, are quickly reaching full capacity.

 



 

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