Retired Tampa juvenile detention officer defies odds in fight against COVID-19

Southeast

TAMPA (WFLA) — A retired juvenile detention officer from Tampa is making progress in his fight against COVID-19 despite pre-existing conditions and being hospitalized since the end of July.

“I’ve lost so many in two months,” Ramonita Garvin said. “My niece passed away in Puerto Rico at 21. My best friend, my sister-in-law, almost (my husband), this is serious.”

Garvin told NewsNation affiliate WFLA she has been leaning on her faith and she is forever grateful for the care her husband is receiving at Tampa General Hospital.

“My hair stands up,” she said looking down at her arm, “because I can’t say enough great things about Tampa General.”

Garvin said she believes her 54-year-old husband Phillip Garvin is defying the odds.

“Oh yeah, every day (the doctors are) baffled with him,” she said. “They counted him out several times only because of what the imaging and the tests were saying, but God has the last word.”

Retired juvenile detention officer Garvin is diabetic and he had a prior heart procedure before contracting the virus.

“He had all these preexisting conditions and from what the TV and information says he wasn’t supposed to make it,” Mrs. Garvin said.

Tampa Fire Rescue transported her husband to Tampa General on July 31.

“He looked horrible,” Garvin said. “It looked worse than a heart attack at the time and you just don’t ever want to see one of your family members going through that.”

In the nearly 40 days since arriving at TGH, Garvin said doctors have treated her husband with Remdesivir, steroids and experimental medications.

He has also required high flow oxygen, but the family refused to let him got on a ventilator.

“He’s a fighter and I’m not gonna let him give up,” Garvin said, “and I hope the community doesn’t let him give up.”

On Monday, 12-year-old Felice Garvin got to see her dad for the first in weeks when the staff let him come outside for fresh air.

Garvin said her husband had not been vaccinated. She said he had been consulting his doctor about which one vaccine would be best for him because of his preexisting conditions.

Both she and her daughter also became sick with COVID-19 this summer. Since their recoveries, they are getting vaccinated.

Garvin said she will keep visiting her husband at TGH until he can come home.

“Every day I go in there,” she said, “I know it’s just another miracle.”

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