Heroes Rise

By Michael Rodriguez
Staff Writer

Time faded inside Fermin Herrera’s hospital room at Valley Baptist Medical Center in Harlingen. Stricken with COVID-19 and heavily medicated, the Missouri gentleman who for 20 years has called the Rio Grande Valley his winter home lay bedridden for weeks, flowing in and out of consciousness with only thoughts of his wife, Ruth Ann, to keep him grounded.

Fifty days in the hospital, 15 of which on a ventilator, a twilight of perpetual dreariness existed in that room, where even reading the wall-mounted analog clock felt nearly impossible. His stay could have been hours or years — to the 82-year-old whose birthday came and went inside the hospital, there were times when he couldn’t tell the difference.

Speaking Tuesday of what he and his wife endured back in the spring of 2020, Fermin said “the memory you’re speaking of doesn’t happen” when asked for his recollection of the time he laid in a hospital bed for several weeks, fighting for his life.

This sort of phenomena is known widely as brain fog, in which survivors of COVID-19 experience memory loss — sometimes for the entirety of their affliction and even events that occurred immediately prior.

Fermin doesn’t know what to call it, but he does know that there are some things that transcend the unconscious mind, and in his case, that was the people who cared for him: his nurses, doctors and other members of the medical staff.

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Photo by Delcia Lopez/The Monitor | dlopez@themonitor.com

Heathcare workers gather and hug each other as they say a prayer together after receiving the COVID vaccine at the Edinburg Conference Center on Thursday, Dec. 17, 2020.

Photo by Delcia Lopez/The Monitor | dlopez@themonitor.com

Health care personnel line up outside the Edinburg Conference Center to receive the COVID vaccine on Thursday, Dec.17, 2020.


RGV Citizens
of the Year
risked lives
for others

Heroes tend to be humble. Perhaps that humility inspires them to their selfless acts. “I was just doing my job,” we’ve heard from many of our medical professionals, who have been named AIM Media Texas’ Rio Grande Valley Citizens of the Year.

The parent company of The Brownsville Herald, The Monitor, Valley Morning Star, El Extra and other Valley publications annually selects a person or group that best exemplifies good citizenship and service to the community. This year our front-line healthcare workers were such an obvious choice that instead of asking readers to nominate people for the award, we asked for statements detailing how those workers have helped our community fight a once-in-a-lifetime threat to our health, our economy and our way of life.

Yes, they are doing their jobs, but perhaps it’s all the more impressive that they chose a career that saves lives, often investing years of study and tens of thousands of dollars — some joining the military because they couldn’t afford medical training otherwise.

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