LOUISVILLE, Colo. — It’s a good thing the Flatirons Health and Rehab facility doesn’t pay its employees by the step.
“He walks a lot. Yeah, he does,” one nurse said as she watched Jaime Gonzalez from behind her station.
Jaime walks laps around the wings of the building, asking anyone and everyone if they need help.
But this spring, those questions and those walking laps stopped. Jaime contracted a severe case of COVID-19 and was hospitalized.
“My little sister asks why is dad not awake,” Jaime's son Jesus said, rewatching cell phone videos of his father in his hospital bed.
The father of three needed to be intubated, and required a machine to oxygenate his blood.
“It was less than 1% chance of survival,” Jesus said about his dad’s diagnosis.
Weeks in, Jaime’s outlook wasn’t improving.
“When they told us he wasn’t going to make it, my mom decided she wanted to renew her vows, if anything happened, before he passed away,” Jesus said.
More cell phone video showed Jaime’s wife in the ICU with her husband. On Jamie's 25th wedding anniversary, the family believes he sent them a sign.
“They asked (Jaime) if he wanted to remarry mom,” his son described. “He says yes by closing his eyes and keeping them shut real tight.”
Weeks turned into months, and the longer their dad stayed in his hospital bed, the harder it was on his younger kids.
“How do you tell a 7- and a 9-year-old that their dad is going to die?” Jesus asked.
When doctors gave Jaime just days to live, the family came together for a final goodbye. They took what they believed would be their final family photo. The kids kissed their father goodbye.
It was Jesus, the oldest of the siblings, who found a rare treatment plan via a case study online. It was a high dose of steroids. With few options left, doctors agreed to try the treatment on Jamie. Days later, he woke up.
“It’s a miracle,” Jesus said.
On April 4 — Easter Sunday and his youngest son’s birthday — Jaime walked out of the hospital. He had spent exactly 100 days in the ICU.
“I still can’t believe it at this point,” Jesus said. “He shouldn’t be alive right now.”
But after making it home, and working through rehab, there was one more place Jaime wanted to go.
“Work. He wanted to get back to work,” Jesus explained.
Back at the Flatirons Health and Rehab facility, Jamie is back on his beloved routine.
“Hi, Maria. I’m almost leaving. You need something?” he asked as he neared the nurses station.
“Now I feel better,” he said.
With his portable oxygen, Jaime is back at the facility as a volunteer and is building up his endurance. He has returned to walking his laps.
“I walked for two miles,” he said as he checked his watch to see his most recent activity.
“We have to tell him to slow down,” one of the nurses commented.
The Gonzalez family has set up a GoFundMe to help with expenses as Jaime gets back to work.