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A John Muir Health Patient Recovering from COVID-19

“Margaret, I just dropped Val off at John Muir Health. I’m so scared for her and I’m not sure what to do!” The call was from one of my dearest friends, Don Magalhaes. As a former John Muir Health employee, I spent years working with patients as the Director of Cardiovascular Service Line Clinical Operations, but this time, it was my own heart that stopped. Valerie was one of 'my own’ — a close friend, neighbor, community member, and fellow mother.

After a long bike ride, Valerie began experiencing allergy-type symptoms. The following day, she had a fever and took a 3-hour nap, something that is uncommon for her. She continued to feel badly and thought her allergies had morphed into a sinus infection. 

As a precaution, and at Don’s urging, Valerie took the COVID-19 test and would await the results for five days. 

In the days following the test, Valerie continued to feel poorly. Her temperature fluctuated between 100° and 102° and she was no longer able to smell or taste her favorite flavored coffee. She also began having flu-like symptoms, including stomach pain. She decided to isolate herself while awaiting the test results and would not allow Don or her children, Kennedy and Kai, into her bedroom for fear she was COVID-19 positive.

The day before her 54th birthday, the news arrived that Valerie had tested positive for COVID-19. They were both stunned! Because she wasn’t having difficulty breathing or experiencing any upper respiratory issues, Valerie decided to manage the virus at home.

Unfortunately, her symptoms worsened and she was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit at John Muir Health, Walnut Creek, with a 102° temperature and unable to eat or drink. Valerie knew she had become very sick and told me that she didn’t see an end in sight. But, even in her darkest moments, her faith kept her strong and she knew she was in the very best hands at John Muir Health.

John Muir Health frontline physicians, nurses and staff John Muir Health frontline physicians, nurses and staff were ready for Valerie’s arrival. In fact, she had an entourage of care providers the minute she arrived—from emergency room doctors, nurses, disease specialists, and X-Ray technicians—who helped her feel comfortable and less anxious. Two nurses, in particular, were “absolute angels!” They accompanied her to her room in the COVID-19 Unit and provided her with pillows, blankets, a toothbrush, and even charged her phone because she’d left her charger at home.

Valerie experienced ups and downs during her time in the ICU, but felt stronger each day. She was able to speak with Don, the children, and her beloved Chihuahua, Dakota, in between visits from her doctors and nurses.

Finally, Valerie heard the words, “we can release you today,” and she says she’ll never forget them! Her fever had broken the day before and she was able to eat breakfast without any nausea or stomach pain.

One month later, Valerie still tires easily and hasn’t regained 100 percent of her taste and smell, but she told me,“One thing is for sure, I am extremely indebted for the extraordinary care I received at John Muir Health!”

I hope you will join me in supporting the dedicated and compassionate health care heroes at John Muir Health who work tirelessly and courageously to fight this unprecedented COVID-19 virus.


margaret signature

Margaret Simor
John Muir Health Foundation, Board of Directors
Former John Muir Health Director of Non-Invasive Cardiology

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