Gabriela Padilla hugging her son

Story 16

Family Legacy

Gabriela Padilla: We think we have a very typical house, certainly for our community. We have my mom and dad, my brother and his girlfriend, and one of my other younger brothers, and my son and I.

When the whole pandemic started, it's one of the main concerns was me getting sick because of my pre-existing conditions and my parents. My sister and I were watching as my dad started to get sick. Maybe four days after that, my son started complaining of a headache and a fever. And I'm like, "No, this isn't normal. He never gets sick." Immediately I took him to get tested. And then he came out positive. And so, by Wednesday or Thursday, he was already on the mend, which I'm like, "Oh, thank God," because that evening I started with a fever. I'm like, oh great. Here we go. Now it's my turn.” I'd have fevers at night. I told him, I said, "I think, I feel like a little dehydrated." So we just went to the ER. By that evening, they're like, "You have to stay." And I didn't know. I must've felt something because when I left and we were driving over I just broke down. I had to start crying because I told my son, "I'll be right back."

Just having to make that call of, "I'm sorry, but I'm not going to be home after all. And I'll just call you as soon as we get more information." And my mom says that ... I don't know. She doesn't know how I do it, but it seems like I'm the only one he talks to. I'm like, he is such a chatterbox. And she's like, "No, he's not. You're the only one he talks to."

You feel your body is not right. But in my mind, it's just like, so what are you looking for so that I can get back home? Maybe I can will my oxygen level higher or my fever lower or whatever it is to go home.

The fourth day that I was in the hospital and the morning doctor that gives you the rundown was like, "So we have this program and it's a hospital at home thing. And your oxygen level has improved some and we feel like we can recommend you for this program." And I'm like, “Yes, at home! Yes, me at home. That would be great.”

First thing I do is hug my son. And it was a moment where it's like, we definitely are not going to do this again for some time. And just holding him. And it's ... I'm home.

When I got home and I saw the setup, it definitely felt like, oh, this is interesting. I wonder how it will work. And then it starts working. You start getting the phone calls and the nurse all of a sudden pops up on the iPad.

One of the things that they send you home with is this watch. So what happens is that if you start to feel unwell, you press it. It just alerts that something has happened. They need to send someone out.

So the field nurses in the beginning would come about three times a day. I think Ryan was definitely one of the nurses that was very encouraging about the idea of, well, let's have a conversation. Let's ask these questions.

Ryan: I've been a nurse for 18 years. So sometimes it gets so busy that I’m not able to talk to them about their life story, about their families. Here in a home we have the personal interactions. I was the one that discharged her the last day. Totally different person.

Gabriela: And I think that's the best part of having it done virtually. It's that idea that at least your brain can turn it off for a moment. Even if physically you're still being ... You still have the bracelets, you still have all these different things that are 24/7 care. But then you get those moments where you get to turn it off. And my son masks up and he pokes his head in and he's like, hi. And I'm like, hi. And that moment of joy of seeing his face that you can't have at the hospitals because you're so completely isolated. And no matter how much it is for your well-being and your care and other people's care, that loneliness is so consuming and in a way that you don't register until you get to hear the idea that you get to go back home. I'm getting the best of both worlds.

I'm getting to receive this amazing care from people who genuinely make you feel like they want to provide this care for you. That they're happy to do it. And I'm getting my family.

And how could you not get better? It's that idea to come along, not only physically, but emotionally and mentally, and not have to put two aside. And kind of say, "Well, right now let's work on the medicine and physically getting you to some point, and then eventually you'll get to be back with your family. So you start to feel better." And if we can do it all together, all the better. And I think that's what this program made possible, is the idea of let's keep getting better.