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Kaweah Health holds first of hopefully many celebrations for COVID-19 patient

  • Category: News
  • Posted On:
  • Written By: Laura Florez-McCusker

Visalia man, COVID-19 and stroke survivor, is first honored in celebration

VISALIA, CA – Kaweah Health is holding celebrations for patients who have either recovered or are on the road to recovery from COVID-19.

In a touching first celebration, approximately 100 Kaweah Health team members huddled in the lobby of Kaweah Health's Rehabilitation Hospital in Visalia recently to wish Warren Gaines, 58, of Visalia, farewell after 37 days in the hospital. Gaines, a COVID-19 and stroke survivor, was wheeled out to be reunited with his wife and son as Journey’s hit “Don’t Stop Believin” played in the background. Kaweah Health team members cheered Gaines on as he smiled from ear to ear.

“I was just overwhelmed because I saw everybody lined up,” said Martha Gaines, Warren’s wife, who waited at the lobby entrance for her husband of 31 years. “That’s my favorite song in the world and to hear that - it was just amazing. To see his smile when he was coming and his excitement and fist pumping and to see nurses crying and jumping up and down it was like it’s more than just a job to them. You could tell.”

The COVID-19 patient recovery celebrations are now available to any COVID-19 patient who would like one at Kaweah Health. Patients can select one of the following songs to be played as they are discharged from Kaweah Health:

  • Don’t Stop Believin’ – Journey
  • Here Comes The Sun – The Beatles
  • Happy – Pharrell
  • Eye of the Tiger – Survivor
  • Vivir Mi Vida – Marc Anthony (SPANISH)
  • Cielito Lindo – Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlan (SPANISH)
  • Buenos Dias Señor Sol – Juan Gabriel (SPANISH)

Warren Gaines chose “Don’t Stop Believin’” because it was his wife’s favorite song.

Gaines was admitted to Kaweah Health on April 1 after he came to the emergency department with symptoms of COVID-19; he was excessively tired and had a fever that wouldn’t go away. Gaines was diagnosed with pneumonia and COVID-19 then admitted to Kaweah Health where he also eventually suffered a stroke. Doctors have noticed a trend that COVID-19 has been shown to cause development of small blood clots that can cause a stroke.

“The nurse who found me saved me,” Gaines said. “All I remember is them taking me to ICU.”

Gaines says although the stroke was unexpected, he was lucky to have it in the hospital. Within two hours, he was given clot-busting medication at Kaweah Health, a leader in stroke care that is designated by The Joint Commission as an Advanced Primary Stroke Center. When patients have a stroke or a stroke-like attack and come to Kaweah Health, doctors, nurses and staff are following the most up-to-date, evidence-based guidelines for treating stroke patients, according to The Joint Commission. In honor of May, National Stroke Awareness Month, Gaines asked people to make sure they go to their doctors for regular check-ups.

“Just go. You don’t want this,” said Gaines, who after being discharged from the hospital still had numbness in his face and was unable to lift his left arm. However, a day after being discharged he was suddenly able to move his left foot.

“I had to fight for my family. I had to,” Gaines said. “I’m going to fight every day.”

Dr. Samuel Matsuo, Jr., who cared for Gaines while he was at Kaweah Health's Rehabilitation Hospital, said Gaines should serve as inspiration to others. “It’s not every day you get to see a case like his where he’s worked so hard and come so far. He was up against a lot,” he said. “Not only did he have COVID-19, but he had a stroke. We’ve had other patients who have come through with strokes and worked very hard and they can achieve these good results if they put in the time and the work. With healthcare and the fighting spirit a lot of things can be done.”

According to the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association, stroke is the No. 5 cause of death and a leading cause of adult disability in the U.S. On average, someone in the U.S. suffers a stroke every 40 seconds, someone dies of a stroke every four minutes, and nearly 800,000 people suffer a new or recurrent stroke each year.

To spot stroke signs, people should refer to the letters in “FAST” and know when to call 9-1-1:

F: Face Drooping

A: Arm Weakness

S: Speech Difficulty

T: Time to Call 911

Kaweah Health shares COVID-19 information and regular updates with the community on its website at and on its social media accounts.