“I’m alive and I shouldn’t be alive”: local nurse recounts coronavirus battle


BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Julie DePetro has been fighting for her life for four months. For most of that time, doctors thought coronavirus would win. But DePetro is tough.

She’s been a nurse practitioner for over 30 years. At the beginning of the pandemic, she suited up and went to work, helping those battling the insidious virus. That fight turned personal in December. DePetro tested positive hours before starting her new job. The tests results came as a surprise. A couple of days later, started showing symptoms of COVID-19.

She was hospitalized just before Christmas, but was out after a couple nights. January 2nd was her birthday. Her sister-in-law found her unconscious on the floor that morning. She was quickly deteriorating. DePetro was placed on a ventilator almost immediately. Julie spent the next three months in an ICU bed. She was placed on a ventilator multiple times, intubated and in a medically induced coma.

But, she’s a fighter. By late March, she had fought her way back to consciousness and then discharge from the intensive care unit. Finally, the move from the hospital to a rehab facility. Her fight has just begun. A relief to be out of the hospital, but that relief is short-lived.

Her medical bills continue to pile up. Nearly three months in the intensive care unit receiving lifesaving treatments and a year of rehabilitation is not cheap. As a contract nurse practitioner, Julie was not officially an employee at any of the hospitals where she worked. Now, she’s not able to work and has no income.

That’s why her kids set up a GoFundMe to help with what will be a huge debt. The fund has helped the family pay for Julie’s house and now help pay for the stacks of bills they’re receiving daily. It’s the price she’s paying, but a price she reminds herself she’s lucky to have.

DePetro urges people, especially kids, to that this virus seriously. There were times when she didn’t know if the virus would win, my kids had no idea if their mom was going to die.”

The virus has stripped Julie of the life she has had. Her road to recovery will be a long one. Julie lost nearly 52 pounds during her stay in the hospital. She is working to regain muscle strength lost while confined to an ICU bed.

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