The global pandemic caused by the Coronavirus has impacted nations all over the world, affecting the well-being of many individuals. Two of our Riverside College graduates would like to share their personal experiences as healthcare providers who have acquired the virus while at work. Here are their stories and how they thrived to survive the battle against COVID-19.

Sergio “Bundle” B. Andrade, Jr. belongs to the pioneer batch of Riverside College’s BS in Physical Therapy program, Batch 1992. He works at The Plaza Rehabilitation and Nursing Center.

Mr. Andrade narrates his story: “I contracted COVID-19 while working Full-Time as a Physical Therapist during the height of the pandemic in New York City. I remember treating COVID-19 positive patients all day long for weeks. I suffered bilateral pneumonia and was ultimately placed in a ventilator for one week. After I was successfully taken off from life support and was able to breathe on my own, I experienced generalized weakness all over my body and felt extremely deconditioned. In fact, I could not even get out of bed and stand up on my own. Even after being discharged, I still feel weak and have poor endurance. As a rehabilitation professional, specifically working as a Physical Therapist and experiencing severe COVID-19 firsthand, I can now empathize, extend a greater deal of patience, understanding, and support to my patients who are fellow survivors. I believe that my faith in God and the prayers from family and friends all over the world allowed me to survive COVID-19. The increased knowledge and understanding of the best approach to manage patients with COVID-19 complications by the medical team was crucial to my survival. The development and availability of clinical trial drugs particularly Remdesivir helped a lot too. The prompt medical attention I received due to the decline in cases of COVID-19 at the hospital where I was admitted (Jacobi Medical Center) contributed greatly to my successful outcome.

Joachima “Jackie” Leyson- Velilla is a BSPT graduate, Batch 1998, works as a Physical Therapist in Regency, Livonia, a Nursing Home in Michigan, USA.

Ms. Velilla shares her story: “It all started with body aches and slight fever sometime in March. I thought it was just seasonal flu but after a week, my situation worsened when I lost my senses for taste and smell. I felt so weak, I can hardly walk. I had viral rashes after my last dose of antibiotics. I was isolated at home and my husband had to monitor my situation through a camera installed in my room. I must have gotten my virus from a patient who was earlier diagnosed with pneumonia. We did not use personal protective equipment (PPE) then while on duty except for our face mask. There were no reported cases yet for COVID-19 in our workplace during that time. My situation led me to depression but the support of my family and friends enabled me to survive my ordeal. The virtual rosary I did with my husband every night strengthened my prayer time and intimacy with God. I must admit, I have not prayed this much in my entire life. I believe that He healed me so I can hug again my children and continue to serve my patients.”


We continue to pray for all our Alumni who are on their road to full recovery from COVID-19.

We salute them for the work that they do as frontliners!