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Boca Raton man thanks health care workers after recovering from COVID-19 complications

'I had this miracle that I was able to survive this terrible disease'
Posted at 4:45 PM, Oct 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-29 23:41:05-04

BOCA RATON, Fla.  — For more than 50 years, Alan Levy has been practicing putting and working to master his golf game.

"I'll shoot high 80s to low 90s," Levy said, with his putter in his hand. "It's not a team sport, it's an individual challenge."

During a tournament in mid-March, the biggest battle of Levy's life began on the golf course.

"I started feeling headachy and feverish," he said.

Days later, Levy was admitted into Boca Raton Regional Hospital. The 66-year-old was battling the coronavirus.

"They'd given me less than a 10-percent chance to live," Levy said. "I didn't know I had it because next thing I know I woke up from a coma."

Levy spent 17 days on a ventilator. He had kidney failure and was in desperate need of dialysis. Levy's family was not allowed inside the intensive care unit, and Sandi Boulais was one of the nurses at his side.

"They were hysterical. He was crying and he couldn't even hold anything in his hands, so we were holding the zoom for him," Boulais, a registered nurse at Boca Raton Regional Hospital, said.

For more than seven months, the team of nurses and doctors at Boca Regional have been fighting exhaustion.

"It's not lying. In the beginning, it was pretty terrifying," Dr. Aashish Neupane, who works in the ICU, said.

The health care workers have also battled mental fatigue as COVID-19 cases surged in South Florida.

"One of the hardest moments that I have had to face was the death of young patients, young fairly healthy patients. Our youngest was 38-years-old," Dr. Samer Fahmy, chief medical officer at Boca Raton Regional Hospital, said.

Because of safety risks, WPTV could not step onto the COVID ward, but the hospital provided video and an inside look where many patients fight to survive. It's where Neupane spends his days taking care of the sickest patients, while each night he fears he could bring the virus home to his young family.

"As soon as I went home, I dropped all my clothes in the garage, go take a shower immediately and stay in the guest room downstairs," Neupane said.

Doctors said hospital admissions for COVID-19 have been decreasing at Boca Regional, and masks and social distancing are working.

"I believe if you lift any or all of those restrictions the numbers will spike," Fahmy said.

Fahmy told WPTV nearly 100 patients have died from the virus at Boca Regional since March.

"It's very painful when the family is either on Zoom or on the phone and they're crying and the patient is dying, so those are things you never get over," Boulais said.

The health-care heroes have experienced the lowest of lows, but there have also been nearly 700 victories. Many patients have recovered, and doctors and nurses lined the hallway as Levy was discharged from the hospital in April.

"I credit the hospital for saving my life," Levy said.

Levy left Boca Regional with a new appreciation for the men and women making sacrifices inside hospitals every single day, and he is thankful to be able to get back on the golf course.

"I had this miracle that I was able to survive this terrible disease," Levy said.