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"Burn Care Unit Staff Celebrates Patients Recovery"

On Oct. 28, 36-year-old Rudy Guzman was pulled from a burning house in Florida, Ohio, just barely alive. Rudy was rescued thanks to the bravery of his brother-in-law, Jorge Maldonada, but he sustained severe injuries from the fire and smoke inhalation. His older sister and Jorge’s wife, Teresa Maldonada and her young son were slightly injured from the blaze that followed after a propane gas tank exploded under their house.

Rudy was brought to Mercy St. Vincent Medical Center via Life Flight, but wasn’t expected to survive. His mother, Sophia DeLaCruz, and his entire family gathered by his bedside for the long recovery ahead. Rudy’s twin sister, Ruby, was one of the first to arrive at the hospital. She described the same pain, burning sensation and choking from smoke – all of the same physical symptoms that Rudy was also experiencing. “She was feeling Rudy’s pain and it was very real to her,” describes Sophia.

“He was on a ventilator and feeding tube for more than a month and was kept in a coma while he underwent treatment,” continues Sophia. “The staff at St. V’s burn care center was amazing and did everything they could to help him. They were all so supportive to me, and I just don’t know how to thank them for all of the wonderful things that they did for us.”

Sophia never left Rudy’s side from the moment he entered St. V’s until the day he left on Dec.11 when he was transferred to another facility to complete his recovery. She stayed at Home Away From Home to be close to her only son.

Rudy was released from inpatient care in early January, but has continued to come to St. V’s for therapy. He remains on oxygen, walks with a cane due to neuropathy in his right foot, but still has made what the staff considers an excellent recovery.

On May 10, the nurses, assistants, social workers, physical therapists, respiratory therapists and housekeeping staff gathered to celebrate Rudy’s success.

While Sophia and other family members knew so many of the staff, Rudy, who was at the center of the celebration, remembers very little of his hospital stay. “I must have had some great care since I’m alive and doing much better. I recall two nurses – one who used to come in and ‘dance’ with me each day as I always had music playing in my room, and an overnight nurse always brought me popsicles so that my throat wouldn’t hurt. I remember their kindness.”

Sister Marcia Wiley, Volunteer, Mature Health Concerns, visited often with Sophia during her round-the-clock vigil by her son’s bedside. Sr. Marcia said that she was impressed by this family’s faith and dedication to their son and brother and that they never gave up, even while Rudy was making just tiny improvements. She said that the teamwork and the total concentrated effort to help this young man recover was truly a mission moment.

“Rudy’s case was one to be celebrated,” says Sr. Marcia. “We wanted to acknowledge how our mission – the compassion, healing and competent care – was demonstrated so well in his recovery. This adherence to Mercy’s mission makes a tremendous difference in a patient’s outcome. Each person on the Mercy team is so important no matter what role they play.”

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