Patient Hero: Paul Richard

Patient Hero: Paul Richard

Advocate Trinity Hospital 

Paul Richard had such a hard time breathing in April that he felt like he had an elephant sitting on his chest. At the emergency department at Advocate Trinity Hospital in Chicago’s Calumet Heights neighborhood, he tested positive for Covid-19.

The Chicago-resident, 69 at the time, vividly remembers the visions he experienced while he was in the hospital on oxygen for about two weeks. He thought he saw angels, an Asian woman in a black kimono who told him he was going to recover, and a small dog with large ears who was his constant companion.

Paul Richard quote Battling Covid-19 is not the first time Richard has faced challenges.

“I came up from the projects, so all my life I’ve been fighting,” Richard says. He served in the Marine Corps during the Vietnam War and then as a firefighter in Chicago. “I always wanted to be someone who helps people, and I thought firefighting was an exciting job,” Richard says.

The Advocate hospital staff reminded Richard of the Marines who stick together so the enemy can’t break through the line, he says. They also lived up to the Marine Corps motto, semper fi, which means dedicated and loyal. “They stayed with me throughout this whole ordeal,” he recalls.

Richard eventually learned that the small dog he imagined at his hospital bedside was a corgi, a breed known to be loyal and protective of their owners. He is now waiting to bring home his own corgi puppy this fall. “There must be a reason God sent that dog to look over me,” Richard says. “People think Covid is a death sentence, but you can recover.” 

Originally published in the Fall 2020/Winter 2021 print issue. Photo by Jim Vondruska