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Respiratory therapist in Tucson recovers from coronavirus

Raul Quintana, 32, is a respiratory nurse in Tucson. He recently recovered from the coronavirus. (Photo courtesy of Raul Quintana)

PHOENIX — About two weeks ago, Raul Quintana woke up with a bad cough, a headache and some tightness in his chest.

The 32-year-old is a respiratory therapist at St. Mary’s Hospital in Tucson and knew the symptoms of the coronavirus – fever, cough, shortness of breath. He was experiencing a few of them, so he went to the emergency room.

“They checked my temperature, and they said that I had a fever,” Quintana said.

He got tested for the coronavirus. On March 26, the results came back positive.

“At first I was a little shocked,” he said.

A few days later, he was told he had come in contact with a patient who had the coronavirus.

“But we were already taking precautions wearing masks, gloves, gowns – everything,” he said. “And I still ended up getting it.”

Quintana said it’s possible he could’ve gotten it from the patient who tested positive or from a co-worker who was asymptomatic, meaning that person was a carrier but wasn’t showing symptoms.

For the next two weeks, he self-isolated at home. His wife stayed to take care of him while they sent their son and daughter to stay with his parents in Phoenix.

The coughing continued for several days, causing him to get shortness of breath.

“There were a couple days where I would speak a few words, I would have to stop and take a breath,” he said. “That was the worst of it, and then slowly I started getting better.”

On Tuesday, his symptoms were gone and he got cleared to return to work. His first shift back was Wednesday night.

Quintana said while he was happy to go back to work, he was concerned about treating patients with the coronavirus and infecting his family.

“It’s not just me that I have to think about,” he said. “My wife and my kids – I have to think about them.”

To avoid putting his family at risk, he and his wife came up with a plan for when he comes home from work. He’s now going to start entering the house through the garage door, taking everything off that he wore, and going straight to the shower.

Quintana said the hospital where he works also implemented new protocols for him and other health care workers. It includes wearing face masks for their entire shifts.

“They also are providing us with scrubs at the hospital to change into,” he said. “And then once our shift is done, we can change out of them so that way we don’t bring anything home with us.”

He added people should take seriously the recommendations by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to stay home and only leave for essential needs.

“The quicker everybody actually listens, the quicker we’ll get over this,” he said. “Just think about everybody else. Try not to get people sick. Stay at home.”

For all articles, information and updates on the coronavirus from KTAR News, visit ktar.com/coronavirus.

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