Chicago health care workers cheer patients released after beating COVID-19

Celebrating recovering patients when they’re discharged brings hope to Advocate Aurora Health workers, they say.

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Advocate Aurora Health discharged its 1,000th COVID-19 patient this week, a landmark that health care workers at the hospital system are celebrating by spotlighting the many individual victories behind that figure.

At Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center in Lake View, Carmen Benabe, 86, was released to quarantine at home four days after being admitted to the emergency room with a COVID-19 diagnosis, according to a release from the hospital system. Benabe’s daughter, Dalia Colon, said the family is thankful in a statement, and that her mom is looking forward to enjoying home-cooked Puerto Rican meals again soon.

At Advocate Trinity Hospital on the South Side, Paul Richards, 69, a retired Chicago firefighter and a Vietnam veteran, headed home amid a standing ovation, passing handmade posters that read “#GOINGHOME” after he spent two weeks on a ventilator for COVID-19 symptoms.

“It was like being in Vietnam,” Richards said in a release from the hospital. “Everyone responded with no hesitation. Everyone stepped up to do what they had to do and put their lives on the line to care for me.”

Dr. Gary Stuck, chief medical officer of Advocate Aurora Health, said he was “grateful for [the] service and sacrifice” of doctors and nurses at the hospital system, emphasized that there’s more work to be done, for medical staff and for Chicagoans. According to the latest figures from the state, Illinois has now seen 868 deaths and 23,247 coronavirus cases.

“The public must continue to do their part by practicing social distancing and staying home as much as possible,” Stuck said in a release. “There will be more milestones to come, both happy and tragic. And our actions now will determine how much celebrating or grieving we do later. We’re all in this together.”

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