COVID-19 survivor reunites with Mississauga hospital staff who saved his life

When Richard Reid travelled south to Miami in March from Ontario to take part in a sailing competition, the novel coronavirus was barely a thought in his mind.

“COVID had started but it was a remote thing going on somewhere else,” he recalled.

When he returned home, everything changed.

“By the end of the week it was making headlines locally,” he remembered.

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That is when he started to feel unwell.

“Three or four days after, that I decided to get a test and lo and behold, a full week after I return from Miami, I get my result of being positive for COVID-19,” he said.

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Reid was shocked.

He frantically reached out to all the people he had been in contact with.

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Out of more than 40, three ended up testing positive as well.

Then Reid, who has asthma, noticed his own symptoms begin to worsen.

“My chest hurt and I was just coughing this, dry stubborn cough — just couldn’t stop coughing,” he said.

He went to Mississauga Hospital.

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“What was going to be an X-ray turned into a 28-days sojourn,” he recalled. “The ICU nurse said, ‘Call your wife — we’re going to intubate you.’”

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Every day, Richard’s wife Lori and their family would stand outside the hospital and pray for his recovery.

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They were not allowed inside due to strict hospital regulations restricting visitors during the pandemic.

“It was a feeling of absolute loneliness and solitude,” said Reid.

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This was the first wave of the pandemic, and there was widespread fear among front-line health-care workers about contracting the virus.

Reid was one of the first COVID-19 patients in the intensive care unit at the Trillium Health Partners hospital.

“I was fearful and anxious about handling patients,” admitted Dexter Cunanan, ICU nurse.

Yet Reid recalled how Cunanan would sit with him and hold his hand.

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“Amazing, amazing guy … He would just grab my hand and say, ‘You’re going to be OK, Richard, you’re going to make it through this,’ and I am so grateful to him,” said Reid.

He credits the health-care team with saving his life.

“These are people that emote and that care and they’re fighting for you and that is a very emotional experience and you bond … I had unbelievably fabulous people there,” he said.

Cunanan recalled that Reid “was really determined to go home and see his wife and his children.”

“That’s what inspired me to take care of him,” he said.

Reid was taken off his breathing tube and discharged on April 7.

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It would be nearly six months later when he would return to the hospital to thank the health-care team.

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His wife convinced him she had a medical appointment.

Reid drove her and when they arrived, the whole ICU team was outside, physically distanced, in masks, waiting to greet him.

It was a heartfelt and emotional reunion.

“So very grateful for everything that you guys did, you never gave up on me,” he told the team.

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The meeting was as meaningful for the front-line workers as it was for Reid.

“He was somebody that would give you hope, too, because he was like, ‘I’m going to do this, I’m going to do this’,” said ICU nurse Tamara Bailey.

“Seeing you now, looking healthy, being well, it makes us feel this is why we do our job and it’s very much worth it,” added Dr. Tiffany Chan, infectious disease specialist.

Reid has recovered but hopes others will learn from his experience.

“Think about these workers, think about all the other people out there that could come into contact with it… We have a huge wave happening now so this is the time for resilience, this is the time for a little bit of personal courage… Three, six months from now you could do whatever you want if we all play by the rules.”


© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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