Savannah respiratory therapist lends hand in COVID-19 hot spot

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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV)- A respiratory therapist from Candler hospital is sharing his story after spending four weeks in a COVID-19 hot spot.

Rafael Agosto graduated from Georgia Southern Southern University in 2003. After he got his degree he started work as a respiratory therapist and has been helping people breathe for 17 years.

Despite being a seasoned medical professional he said his traning is still no match for a virus that can shut down the human lungs.

“COVID-19 is definitely something new to us we don’t know exactly how to treat it 100 percent so it’s kind of like a trial period for us,” said Agosto.

At candler hospital COVID-19 patients numbers are low. On an average day Agosto was attending to about nine patients a day.

In other parts of the country medical workers were struggling and Agosto knew he could help

“I think that’s what kind of caught my eye as far as wanting to go up there and help,” said Agosto, “how bad it was up there I didn’t know at the time, how bad it was until I got there.”

Agosoto began a four week rotation at the Good Samaritan Clinic in Brockton, Massachusetts.

The hospital was one of the hardest hit in the state, caring for close to 90 COVID-19 patients a day. He said only a small portion of the hospital was dedicated to patients without the infection.

“It was a little sad at times you know disheartening because they felt scared,” said Agosto. “Me being in the rooms with them and just talking to them and just listening to them I’ve had a lot of patients come back and say you know thank you for just listening to me.”

During his time there Agosto said he saw more patients die than recover from the virus. He said he lost count of how many patients coded out during his stay.

“That, you know, kind of threw me back a little a bit because you know you talk with these patients and they become your family because that’s what they think of you as family,” said Agosto, “because they don’t have anybody to talk to.”

Agosto is back in Savannah and healthy. He even brought back a new oxygen delivery device to share with his co-workers at St. Joseph’s/Candler hospitals. He tells News 3 the hope is that it will help local patients.

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