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Nursing home employee coping with loss as she works to recover from coronavirus

Brenda Valle, an employee at the SE Nursing and Rehab Center was in critical condition on a ventilator. She recently lost her stepfather and a coworker.

SAN ANTONIO — An employee of the Southeast Nursing and Rehab Center who contracted the virus from working at the facility is finally in recovery.

Brenda Valle said in late March that she was having trouble breathing.

“I went to an emergency room and they said that they tested me for corona. I came back positive and they had to intubate me,” Valle said.

The next day, she was fighting for her life. She was in Methodist Metropolitan Hospital for over a month in critical condition, at which time she was also on a ventilator.

She was finally released two weeks ago, and hospital staff celebrated her positive turn with a parade sendoff as she was leaving. Valle contends she was the first coronavirus survivor to be treated at the hospital. 

But she also said she may have infected two family members before she even tested positive for the virus, and well before she started showing symptoms. Her brother, Benito, was admitted to the hospital and began his own battle against the virus. 

Meanwhile, Valle said her stepfather didn’t survive.

“I felt like I couldn’t even tell him goodbye, and thank him for all he did for us,” she said. 

Valle had contracted the virus doing what she loved: working as a staff member at the Southeast Nursing and Rehabilitation Center.

“I love helping people," she said. I was really passionate about my job."

The nursing home is the epicenter of a local coronavirus outbreak where at least 18 residents have died, and more than 100 in all have been diagnosed between residents and staff. 

Valle said she received more devastating news on Sunday: She lost one of her coworkers. San Antonio officials confirmed Monday night that a staff member who worked at the nursing home had died from complications related to the coronavirus.

“She was always that one coworker saying, ‘You need help, call me,’” Valle said. “God needed her more.”

The troubles haven't ended for Valle with those losses. She says the health of her mother, who had a stroke a few years ago, suddenly took a turn for the worst this week. But the coronavirus is not a factor. 

Valle said they had to place her mother in hospice, and they expect to lose her any day.

Due to mounting medical bills, Valle said they have created a GoFundMe to help with her mother’s funeral and burial expenses.

“We got sick for something we loved doing, and I just wish we had a warning or we could just see it coming to protect ourselves and protect others," Valle said. "We didn’t only infect ourselves. We infected our family."

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