May 6, 2020

Recovery and relief in the face of COVID-19

First confirmed Oregon COVID-19 patient discharged from Kaiser Permanente Westside Medical Center.

Hector Calderon shares a smile with his family and caregivers as he leaves Kaiser Permanente Westside Medical Center to the tunes of a mariachi band.

Hector Calderon — the first person in Oregon to test positive for COVID-19 — was discharged from Kaiser Permanente Westside Medical Center on May 4 after more than 2 months of treatment.

Chad Cabe, an intensive care unit charge nurse, visited Calderon every chance he got, and “gave him a pep talk and said a little prayer for his recovery — even when he was sedated and intubated.”

One of the motivators Cabe used was the promise of a mariachi band and parade when he recovered. He delivered on both of those promises. As Calderon left the medical center, staff lined the hallways and a mariachi band was playing music outside. He was also greeted by his pastor and church members.

Calderon took a moment to send a message to staff and students at Forest Hills Elementary School in Lake Oswego, Oregon, where he works as a janitor. “I would just like to let you know I miss you so much. Thank you for your support to me and my family. God bless you and I will see you soon.”

Calderon will need to work with physical therapists at a skilled nursing facility to regain his strength. “Our hope is that he will have a full recovery, but he still has some work to do and long-term prognosis is unknown since this is a new virus,” said Sahra Rahimtoola, MD.

In addition to being the first confirmed case in Oregon, Calderon was the second patient in the nation determined to have contracted the virus through community spread. His infection was not directly related to someone recently traveling from one of the hard-hit nations that were targets for containment. Calderon was among the first patients in the nation to be treated with remdesivir.

“This has been a remarkable journey. His courage, strength, and resilience throughout has been an inspiration,” said Katie Sharff, MD. Dr. Sharff is an infectious disease specialist at Kaiser Permanente, as well as the parent of a student at Forest Hills Elementary School. “It was such a joy to see his clinical improvement and hear him asking about students and teachers at the school.”