"It's People Who Touch Your Heart"

July 2, 2020

It was an emotional moment for Maria Herrera as she took her first steps toward home, to be with her husband and two daughters, after a life-threatening battle with COVID-19. The staff at Palmdale Regional Medical Center lined the hallways to cheer as she was taken to greet her family, who had gathered outside — eager to be reunited.

The last time she had seen them was 17 days earlier. Her symptoms had come on quickly. It started with a fever, cough, and then shortness of breath. "It was hard for me to breathe, everything happened in like seconds," she recalls of those moments before her husband called 9-1-1.

Herrera is just 42 years old, and her family was at the top of her mind from the time she was taken to Palmdale Regional for critical care. She remembers one particular instance in the hospital when the quick action of her nurse, Tony, and the respiratory team helped save her life. "Because of them I'm still here," she said, expressing her gratitude to everyone from the certified nursing assistants to the doctors — especially Tony, Genesis (from the respiratory team), Wendy, Lawrence, Eleanor, Elsa, Donna and Sonia.

She calls Wendy her "angel," who fed her and made "dates" with her for mealtimes. "She told me that I needed to fight and I needed to get better," she says. "If it were not for her, I don't know if I would have kept going."

"Lawrence was another RN who pushed me to not give up, that I had my girls to fight for and a family out there," Herrera says. "It's people who touch your heart, people you don't forget because they took care of you. They become kind of like part of your family."

Even though COVID restrictions kept her family and friends from being with her in the hospital, she is thankful for the support they provided throughout her time there. Many members of her family gathered outside the hospital on the day she went home, and seeing them all there was a heartfelt surprise. "When I walked out and I saw all of that, it was very nice, I was very emotional," she says. "I thank God every day that I'm here with my family."