Families wait outside hospital windows to be near loved ones with COVID-19
LAS CRUCES - Pablo Garcia has waited 22 days outside his mother’s hospital room, he explained, sitting in front of Memorial Medical Center on Saturday. His mother, Sylvia Garcia, a 60-year-old schoolteacher at Lynn Middle School, helped students with homework over the phone even after she contracted the virus and was admitted to the hospital. She helped students until she was sedated, Garcia said.
Weeks later, her son and a friend from work can be found sitting outside her first-floor hospital window in camp chairs, keeping her company.
Unable to visit his mother or even enter the hospital, Garcia has taken solace in the care he sees her receive from doctors and nurses. He looks in through the window, where his mother lays and he waits, day after day.
“It’s very difficult, me being her son and she’s comforted me my whole life," he told the Sun-News Saturday morning. "For her to go through this and me not being able to hold her hand, comb her hair, hug her, kiss her — it’s very hard to not be there for her and be by her side.”
Garcia said he understands why he can’t see his mother, but says the care the nurses give his mother is the next best thing.
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“We have hope. That’s all we can do right now,” said Esther Torres-Peña, Sylvia's friend and a teacher at Hermosa Heights Elementary School. “I understand that we can’t go in there. There is so much COVID all over. I understand and it’s worth it; it’s absolutely worth it to sit out here and just — hopefully, she knows we're here supporting her.”
While the families sat outside, a car pulled up and a woman stepped out, bringing them food and water. Torres-Peña, who did not know the stranger, said many people have done the same in a show of love toward the families.
Signs and crosses adorn the outward-facing window where Garcia and Torres-Peña waited.
“I hope she knows that we’re here fighting along with her. We’re going to fight and fight for her,” Torres-Peña said.
Garcia and Torres-Peña weren’t the only family and friends waiting outside to see their loved ones. Eric Rodriguez, Marisela Gallegos and their children came to visit Gallegos’ mother for the first time.
The family huddled around the window, cupping their hands against the glass to look in at Martina Gallegos, 56, laying in her bed after nearly a month in the hospital.
“We barely found out that we were able to see her through the window,” Rodriguez said. “She was in assisted living. That’s where she contracted the virus.”
Tears wetted the masks worn by the family as they were able to see Martina for the first time in months.
“It’s hard because we haven’t been able to see her since the pandemic started,” Rodriguez said. “She already survived an aneurism. Right now, it’s 50/50 if she’ll make it through... It’s hard, it's emotional, our kids don’t really understand what’s going on… It's hard on everyone.”
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