Yvonne Tells Her COVID-19 Story After Being Discharged

Yvonne Regalado, 44, is back home after more than five months of battling the repercussions of COVID-19 at Sierra View Medical Center (SVMC), where she spent three months in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and the remainder of her time in the organization’s Distinct Part Skilled Nursing Facility.

Though she’s still gaining strength and trying her best to take everything at a slower pace – a difficult task for an active mom who was a cheerleader for her sons at each sporting event, a full-time Psych Tech with more than 20 years of experience in the healthcare industry, and a giver to anyone who needed her help within her church and community.

Admitted in August 2021 and released January 2022, Yvonne was one of several who were admitted at SVMC for COVID-19, but only one of two patients who finished acute care in the DPSNF. The only COVID-19 patient who has walked out of the DPSNF to date.

It was early August, just at the brink of a COVID-19 surge of positive cases in Tulare County, when Yvonne was getting flu-like symptoms and tested positive for COVID. Her shortness in breath quickly progressed and after her husband kept a close eye on her, she then started showing a slight paleness, and he rushed her to the hospital.

With the condition that her lungs were in, she was unable to get adequate oxygen to her body and was moved to the ICU where she received acute care by highly skilled intensive care nurses, doctors, specialists and others. Yvonne was an active and healthy person - always on her feet with a very mild asthmatic condition. None of this was making sense to her or her family.

Yvonne can’t recall all that was happening while she was being treated and closely monitored in the ICU. She was among many using a ventilator for the most complex and critically ill. What she does remember is the extreme anxiety of being away from her loved ones; knowing that there have been several people locally, nationwide and globally that have been in the same state as she was in that never made it. But she remembers a breaking point where her mind allowed her to find gratitude for the compassionate care she was receiving and she was able to sink in deep with her faith.

“I remember a sudden calm coming over me,” Yvonne said. “I really believe without faith, God and prayers, I wouldn’t have been able to get through this.”

After being given the green light that she was ready to move downstairs to the DPSNF, when she arrived, she couldn’t lay down without going into respiratory distress and the mobility on her right side was very limited, where she couldn’t grasp anything. She was eating through a gastrostomy tube. It was a long and tough first couple of weeks in the DPSNF, especially since her sons and husband could not be at her bedside.

“Everything was stripped away from me,” Yvonne explained with raw emotions that you could tell hit like a brick. “When I looked out the window, I felt like I was in a pet store when my family was looking in." 

No matter the status of the visitation guidelines the DPSNF had to follow for the utmost safety of all, her husband visited every single day and he and his sons were soon able to be with her in her room as state guidelines lifted and the COVID-19 surge within the state and county eased. Her care team had to work diligently and were persistent in making sure that she knew that together, she was going to get better - things would get better.

Christmas Day of 2021, marked a huge milestone in her journey to healing physically, mentally and emotionally. She came off the “Big Vent” and went onto a blow-by, a common form of aerosol therapy. Her level of anxiety went down after she could once again speak and express herself.

“I could finally say thank you to everyone and express what I was really feeling,” said Yvonne. “It touched my heart when my son said that Christmas Miracles really do happen.”

If Yvonne could, she would thank each and every SVMC team member that helped her along the way. From the person who reassured her husband Oscar that they would watch over her in the Emergency Department; to each individual within the hospital walls, from front-line to those behind the scenes. She gave a special mention to specific individuals that not only had a big impact on her success in healing and getting to the point of discharge. Those individuals included: her Respiratory Therapist who taught her a lot along the way and assured her that she was ok. Her Physical Therapists who did not take no for an answer. Each and every CNA that was with her day in and day out. The Activities Director who made sure she was engaged in activities that spoke to her and helped her heal; to the specialist that had a nurturing way to her and helped her with lifestyle changes and the list goes on and on.

“The people here at SVMC did everything within the scope of their work, but went way above and beyond,” Yvonne explained. “I believe I crossed paths with each and every person that was a part of my care for a reason in one way or another here at the hospital. I was never treated like the patient in room 102.”

Yvonne’s message to her community – “Get you vaccination – protect yourself and everyone that you love. You can take action and avoid what could have happened. If you have the opportunity to protect yourself and others, do it.”