Coronavirus: Doctor of COVID-19 patient with longest stay at Orange County hospital discusses journey to recovery

An Orange County coronavirus survivor who has only seen the inside of a hospital for the last 45 days is finally in the care of his loved ones.
ORANGE, Calif. (KABC) -- An Orange County coronavirus survivor who has only seen the inside of a hospital for the last 45 days is finally in the care of his loved ones. His family wasn't sure this day would ever come.

Cheers of joy, mariachi music and applause erupted when 53-year-old Armando Mendoza returned home to his loved ones.

The husband and father of three hasn't seen his family for a month and half.

"I'm so really happy. Thank you, Jesus, for giving me another opportunity. Thank you!" Mendoza said.

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It's a hero's welcome. But Mendoza and his family said the real heroes are the doctors, nurses and other staff at St. Joseph Hospital Orange who refused to give up on him.

"Everybody who supported and assisted my dad, we're incredibly happy. We're incredibly blessed and we're just excited to have him home," said Mendoza's son, David. "It's been really hard, given the situation and given the circumstances. This is a magnificent day!"

Mendoza has the distinction of being the hospital's longest-stay COVID-19 patient.

"He was extremely sick, and there were times when we were wondering how he would pull through the night," said Critical Care Pulmonologist Dr. Jooby Babu.

Mendoza appeared quite different from when he first was admitted on March 21.

"Forty-eight hours after he came in, we had to place him on a breathing machine because he was not able to sustain his breathing. He was on the breathing machine for at least four weeks," Babu said.

Babu and his staff went a step further, placing him on a special rotoprone bed to help turn his body.

"Proning is a technique of helping the patients get more oxygen, and that's being used on all patients now even if they're awake," Babu said.

Mendoza also needed a tracheostomy to help him start breathing on his own.

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"A tracheostomy is a tube that is placed in the throat to get him off the ventilator," Babu said.

Mendoza remains on oxygen and is doing well for someone who has been receiving critical care treatments for such an extended period. Doctors said he still has a long road ahead, but he's looking forward to being back home with his wife, Lilia.

"I'm so happy. Thank you guys. Thank you for your support," Mendoza said.
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