LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — It’s a story of loss, but also gratitude. A widow whose husband died of COVID-19 reunited with the healthcare workers who took care of him.
Widow Carissa Hernandez has three young daughters. Artor Nazzari, her 42-year-old husband, died in July after contracting COVID-19.
“It breaks my heart to see that they’re gonna have to grow up without a dad,” she lamented.
When Carissa first shared her story with the I-Team, she expressed grief, as well as gratitude for the medical team.
“I’d just want them to know that how much that meant to me and to my family,” she said.
After the I-Team called MountainView Hospital, they were virtually reunited.
“Looking into your faces, you guys helped pull me through it,” Carissa told them.
She’s grateful for them all, from the intensive care unit nurses who cared for Artor in his final moments to the cardiologist who treated him earlier on.
“It was really a shock to see someone who was otherwise healthy get so sick,” said Dr. Jeffrey Levisman, cardiologist. “And you know, that really stuck with me.”
Visitors aren’t allowed inside COVID patients’ rooms. ICU nurse Marissa Muraoka grabbed an iPad so Carissa and her girls could watch the final efforts to save Artor’s life, and then say goodbye.
“I promised my husband when he was in this hospital, when he first got sick, that I would never leave his side,” Carissa recalled. “You enabled me to fulfill that promise to him, when otherwise, I wouldn’t have been able to do that.”
Diane Daras held Artor’s hand.
“She was telling him, ‘It’s okay, baby. It’s gonna be okay,'” Diane recounted. “‘You’re just gonna go to sleep for a little bit,’ and that last communication to me was priceless. So to me, that was an honor to be there.”
Kelly Koehler did chest compressions.
“There was not a dry eye in that code,” she said. We actually had to … It was hard having the kids in the background.”
“I can still remember them screaming, ‘Daddy, not my daddy!’ And those are definitely some things that will keep me up at night at times,” said Carissa. “But I think I made the right decision by not sheltering them from that.”
Marissa shared, “Those moments to us were part of what kept the resuscitation going, like the effort to keep doing as much as we can going, but also knowing when it was time and to communicate that to Carissa and say, ‘you know, it’s time to let him go.'”
A nurse herself at a different hospital, Carissa says she believes this team did everything they could:
“I know in my heart and soul that they did.”
A meeting like this isn’t the norm. Carissa sharing how she and her daughters are coping months later, and these normally stoic healthcare workers sharing how much Artor’s death stays with them.
“My heart just dropped, and I just wanna say I’m sorry,” said ICU nurse Kori Leftwich.
“I just hope that people who are experiencing loss are able to move forward as gracefully and with as much strength as you have during this pandemic,” Marissa said.
“All of you were angels that day, whether you know it or not,” expressed Carissa.
A spokeswoman tells the I-Team MountainView Hospital waived Artor’s medical bills back in August. She says corporate staff learned about the circumstances: Artor lost his job before he died, he had three young children, and Carissa is a healthcare worker.