Jenny Sanchez spent almost three weeks in the ICU, and the remaining time at AdventHealth's inpatient rehab center.
Editor's note: The interviews by Jenny Sanchez and Darlene Ampuero have been translated from Spanish for this article.
At 71 years old, Jenny Sanchez can say she has officially beaten COVID-19.
The Ormond Beach resident had traveled to Ecuador prior to showing symptoms, and returned home in March when she started seeing the news about the coronavirus spreading worldwide. But when she came back, her family started noticing that she wasn't quite herself. Sanchez loves to talk, she loves to dance and she loves to laugh. She wasn't doing any of that upon her return.
"She didn't want to eat," said her granddaughter, Darlene Ampuero. "She was really weak. She spent all day sleeping, and she's not like that."
Ampuero's mother and Sanchez's daughter, Maryori Bollinger, took Sanchez to an Urgent Care, where she was diagnosed with pneumonia. Two days later when her condition worsened, her family took her to AdventHealth Daytona Beach with symptoms of cough, fever and shortness of breath.
"Then I practically lost consciousness because immediately they had to take me to the intensive care unit," Sanchez said.
That happened on March 31, said Lindsay Cashio, spokesperson for AdventHealth in an email. Shortly after being admitted to the ICU, Sanchez was intubated and kept on a ventilator for 12 days.
Sanchez's family was devastated when her COVID-19 results came back positive. They couldn't see her in the hospital. Doctors informed them her lungs weren't working as they should be, hence the need for the ventilator. Ampuero said they cried every day.
"We didn't think she was going to make it out alive," Ampuero said. "We had faith, but at the same time, she was really sick and we didn't know how she could pull through."
But she did.
By April 18, Sanchez had won the battle against COVID-19. Ampuero said their family was ecstatic and thankful to both the medical professionals that took care of her grandmother, and being a family of faith, to God as well.
When Sanchez reopened her eyes after almost three weeks in the ICU, she realized she was in a hospital. An employee who spoke Spanish told her what she had been through, and what was to come next: Weeks in recovery in the hospital's inpatient rehab center to help her relearn the basics of taking care of oneself, such as dressing, walking and bathing.
Her recovery came quickly, and Sanchez was released two days ahead of schedule, Cashio said.
"I'm blessed because God brought me back from death, and now I can give testimony to the world that he exists, and has helped me accomplish everything so quickly," Sanchez said. "In one week, I learned to walk, I learned to eat, and I learned to bathe."
When she was discharged, after spending almost five weeks in the hospital, AdventHealth Daytona Beach team members lined the hallway and clapped as she was wheeled through.
Having gone through this with her grandmother, Ampuero said she hopes people will continue to take precautions during the pandemic. It's not over yet.
"This isn't something you want to go through," Ampuero said. "I would never want anyone to experience what we did because it is a very sad situation for the family, and also for friends and loved ones."
Sanchez said the nurses, medical staff and physical therapists at AdventHealth treated her well, and had a lot of patience when helping her. She's thankful for that. Their help means that someday soon, she'll be able to enjoy dancing merengue, cumbia and salsa again.
"All of my life, I've been a dynamic person — extroverted, a hard worker," Sanchez said. "I've fought and God has always held my hand, so yes, I have faith. A lot of faith."