Central Texas COVID-19 survivor sends 100 pizzas to hospital staff that cared for him

Updated: May. 11, 2021 at 2:30 PM CDT
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TEMPLE, Texas (KWTX) - A Central Texas COVID-19 survivor sent 100 pizzas to the hospital staff members who skipped meals and pulled 20-plus hour shifts as they cared for him as he battled the virus during the historic February freeze.

Ramon Garcia, 53, who was diagnosed with COVID-19 on Feb. 12, a day after the National Weather Service issued the first Winter Weather Advisory ahead of the bitter freeze.

He remained in the COVID-19 unit of Scott & White Medical Center in Temple until Feb. 19, a day before the last hard freeze warning expired.

The storm left hundreds of thousands of residents here and around the state without power, some for days, and made travel treacherous.

“With the ice storm some of them couldn’t even go home and they didn’t have much cooked so sometimes they didn’t even eat so they could give the patients the food,” Garcia said.

Garcia never expected to be a COVID patient and certainly never expected to be admitted to the hospital during a winter storm that practically paralyzed Central Texas.

He battled breathing problems for weeks before he finally went to the hospital.

“I could barely breathe at all,” he said.

Doctors diagnosed him with the coronavirus, and he was admitted to the hospital.

His family was unable to stay in the hospital with him because of COVID-19 restrictions, so the nurses and hospital staff became his source of strength.

“I didn’t know how it was going to come out,” Garcia said as tears ran down his face.

“But they made me feel like I was human and not just there. You know, because when you feel lonely you look up to someone else.”

One of those nurses was Jacob Brank who started work as an RN just months before.

He says he always focused on making connections with patients despite all the PPE and restrictions.

“I think the challenge is (the patients) don’t see people,” Brank said.

“They see a gown and a face shield, and they see your eyes behind some kind of glasses, and I just try to talk to them and talk to them like people.”

His efforts didn’t go unnoticed.

Garcia who says the nurse slept at the hospital after roads became too dangerous for nurses to come and go.

“Jacob was one of the ones who decided he’d sleep there, and he’d come in my room every two hours and make sure I didn’t’ need anything,” Garcia said.

The extra-large pizza delivery was the least he could do, Garcia said.

“I was always taught when you appreciate somebody you should show them that you are appreciative of what they do, not just because of who they are but what they do for you and for others,” Garcia said.

Jacob enjoyed the pizza like the rest of the staff but says the biggest gift of all was getting to see Garcia alive and well.

“I think the best part about that is that he’s the first patient that I’ve had since I’ve been a nurse,” Jacob said.

“I started in July of 2020 in the middle of a pandemic, so no visitors were allowed at the hospital and so it’s pretty cool to see patients be allowed to come back in. So, it’s a great feeling to see us getting back to normal and see people again.”

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