April 29, 2020

Adventist Hospital in Puerto Rico Releases First COVID-19 Patient

David Sebastian, Inter-American Division News

Adventist-operated Hospital Bella Vista in Mayagüez, Puerto Rico, released its first patient who recovered from COVID-19 on April 15, 2020.

Elyse Octave, 40, was wheeled through the halls of the hospital after spending three weeks under the care of the medical staff. Octave, a physician doing a residency in family medicine at Bella Vista since 2019, had returned to Puerto Rico from a trip home to New York City.

Physicians, nurses, and health professionals applauded Octave for his successful recovery as he was escorted out. As he was about to leave the hospital premises, the hospital chaplain prayed for his continued healing.

“From the very beginning,” Octave said, “I knew that I was not going to die because God was not going to bring me to Puerto Rico to do my residency for me to stay along the way. The God I know and follow never starts something and leaves it along the road unfinished.”

Octave expressed his thanks to God for His care. The recovered physician, who is originally from Haiti, said, “This [experience] is one of the wonders that He has done in my life.”

According to Jorge Vera Quiñones, assistant director of Hospital Bella Vista’s family medicine residency program, Octave began presenting symptoms including fever and general discomfort. “He came to the emergency room, and a COVID-19 test turned out negative, but 48 hours later came back with the same symptoms, and a second test revealed a positive result,” Vera said. “At the beginning, I felt anxious because I had to help him and the other 18 residents,” he added.

“Medicine is changing daily, and physicians all over the world are working together to find the cure for this virus … in the meantime, we need to protect ourselves, and that is the best gift to our family and neighbors,” Vera said.

Executive director of Hospital Bella Vista Mara Marrero reported that the hospital is currently caring for another patient suffering from the coronavirus and other patients who have exhibited similar symptoms. “Our hospital staff is following the careful protocol established to protect the patient and medical staff assisting them,” Marrero said.

Puerto Rico government figures reported 1,389 positive cases of the coronavirus and 84 deaths resulting from the illness as of April 27, 2020.

According to Marrero, Hospital Bella Vista can care for about 20 COVID-19 patients in its isolation room, in addition to a provisional room completely equipped if needed.

“The hospital is prepared to handle patients 24/7 and is licensed by the Department of Health in Puerto Rico and accredited by the Joint Commission of Hospitals, so we are prepared to manage any emergencies,” Marrero said.

Established in 1954, Hospital Bella Vista is operated by the Seventh-day Adventist Church and provides services to more than 20,000 patients each year. The facility has 157 beds and boasts state-of-the-art imaging, radiotherapy, and rehabilitation centers, as well as a clinical laboratory, physical therapy, and respiratory therapy services, a cancer institute, pediatric care, family and chaplaincy residencies, and more. The hospital is part of the Bella Vista Health System, which includes a polyclinic and a health insurance plan.

The original version of this story was posted on the Inter-American Division news site.