Francisco “Pancho” Ibarra

Pancho focused on his loved ones as he recovered from COVID-19 at NIACH

Most of us don’t think twice about the ability to breathe. But the simple act of inhaling and exhaling on his own is something Francisco “Pancho” Ibarra will never take for granted again.

It wasn’t always that way, though. Pancho had never even contemplated the inability to breathe. Pancho, 53, runs a thriving business, Pancho’s Heating and Cooling in the Tri-Cities. The self-proclaimed workaholic worked full-time and spent his weekends helping family and friends with their projects.

Everything changed when Pancho contracted COVID-19.

After his diagnosis, Pancho admitted to the hospital, received a tracheostomy, and spent two weeks on a ventilator. Then, his physicians recommended a transfer to the nationally-recognized respiratory failure ventilator weaning program at Northern Idaho Advanced Care Hospital (NIACH). NIACH is a critical care hospital providing services to patients recovering from serious illnesses or injuries. Pancho said he chose NIACH first due to its location and then the hospital’s online reviews.

“The need to return to my family influenced me to fight for recovery the most,” said Pancho.

And fight he did for the next three weeks. Pancho and his care team set daily and weekly goals, and he worked hard to achieve them. Soon, he weaned from the ventilator, regaining the ability to breathe on his own, and advanced to walking 80 feet using a walker. By the end of his stay, Pancho’s tracheostomy was removed, and he could walk 200 feet at a time.

According to Pancho, his “quicker than expected” recovery is a credit to the excellent care he received at NIACH. His care team consisted of physicians, respiratory therapists, nurses, pharmacists, dietitians, speech therapists, physical therapists, occupational therapists, patient care technicians, and case management.

“They went above and beyond,” said Pancho, adding that he feels there are nurses who are born to be in the profession and truly cared about his comfort and recovery.

Pancho defined his success as having friends and family around who love and protect him as much as he loves and would protect them. Motivation to recover played a key role in his recovery, as Pancho knew his friends and family were waiting for him to come home. Now home for nearly two months, Pancho cherishes his time with family and friends, receiving visitors daily.

Pancho’s inspirational recovery story is one of hope, motivation, and love that ultimately ended in success.

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