(PHOENIX – June 19, 2020) – A Valley father and his son have a special reason to celebrate Father’s Day this year after both were hospitalized with and have recovered from COVID-19.
“Father’s Day is going to be more meaningful this year because we have so much to celebrate,” says Garette Craig, 50, who went with his 30-year-old son to the emergency room and were both admitted to the hospital after they both fell ill in March.
Craig had a fever and shortness of breath when he was admitted to Dignity Health St. Joseph’s Westgate Medical Center on March 27. Two days later he was transferred and placed on a ventilator at Dignity Health St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix.
“They came in and told me my lungs were failing and that ‘If we don’t put you on a ventilator, you’re going to die,’ ” Craig says. “I had a 23 percent chance of surviving, and I did.”
Craig was taken off the ventilator nearly two weeks later on April 10. When he was released from the hospital four days later, Craig was so weak that he needed a wheelchair. He had lost 32 pounds from a 220-pound frame.
Meanwhile, Craig’s son Garette Craig Jr. of Phoenix was hospitalized for seven days at St. Joseph’s Westgate. Craig Jr., who was considered at-risk because he had undergone a heart procedure in the fall, had been experiencing symptoms for nearly two weeks before he and his father went to the hospital.
“When we went into the hospital, I was worse than he was,” Craig Jr. says of his dad. “But he ended up being worse than me.”
“We’re delighted the Craigs will be able to celebrate Father’s Day together, especially due to their positive outcome after contracting COVID-19,” says Tina Brucato-Day, Vice President of Operations at St. Joseph’s Westgate. “Our healing mission at Dignity Health has always been unique, and challenges like the COVID-19 pandemic reinforce our commitment to providing compassionate and expert medical care for all.”
Both Craig and his son acknowledged that, like many Arizonans, they initially underestimated the threat of COVID-19.
“I definitely didn’t take it seriously,” Craig Jr. says. “In my mind, I felt it was just like the flu, so I wasn’t scared of it at all. Now I know how serious it is.”
For a time, Craig Jr. didn’t even know the seriousness of his father’s situation. As Craig Jr. recovered in the hospital, his friends and family assured him that his father was doing well. “They were looking out for me,” Craig Jr. says. “It wasn’t until later that we were talking and he told me what had really happened. I was like, ‘Wait – what? You almost died?’
“It will mean something more to be able to celebrate Father’s Day with him because we definitely could have lost him,” Craig Jr. says.
The harrowing experience with COVID-19 has changed both men’s attitudes toward the pandemic. Craig says he has returned to his daily health club workouts but maintains social distance and wears a mask. That puts him in a small minority at his gym, he says.
“I don’t think people are taking it seriously,” says Craig, who lives in Litchfield Park and has also returned to work for a local website design firm. “For every 50 people that are in there, I would say one has a mask on. It’s just bizarre. What I would say to people is: wear a mask. Sanitize. This thing is serious.”