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Covid separated an El Paso couple, then brought them back together in an ICU dubbed ‘honeymoon suite’

EL PASO, Texas -- It may sound like lyrics to a song, but ABC-7 found love in one of the most unlikely places, in the Covid unit on the third floor of Uniervsity Medical Center.

Nurse Maritza Soto will never forget how she contracted Covid-19.
She wants to forget how she passed it on to her 65-year-old husband Salvador Soto.

But this story has a happy ending and it made for an unforgettable stay in room 310, which nurses there have playfully re-named the “honeymoon suite.”

“But I see it, a smear of peanut butter and jelly on the table! How did that get there. I forgot where I was. I was five-years-old again and I went… oooh?” said Maritza.

It was lunchtime for her. But she realized she hadn’t cleaned the table that smear fell on, and her fears came true.

“That was Wednesday. Thursday, Friday I went to get some fasting labs, and some ugh, drugs, medication. Saturday I get up, 102.1. The back of my eyes were hot. I said, oh no,” Maritza recalled.

By Tuesday of that next week, she tested positive for the coronavirus and was quickly admitted to the intensive care unit, the same unit she works in at UMC.

Meanwhile, Salvador was feeling some symptoms but refused to go to the hospital.

Finally, when it was too much to bare, Maritza called 911 and made sure he went to the same hospital she was in. Paramedics delivered him to the same hospital, but he was taken to a different floor.

“But I was in ICU, 348, and he was in 623,” said Maritza.

Desperate to hear from each other, they had nurses exchange their love letters.

Salvador recounted what he wrote to Maritza and how she responded.

“It says, ‘To my love. You have no idea how deep my love is for you. More than life itself,’” said Salvador.

“And I told him, ‘I know you love me and I love you so much. And I’m so sorry, I could’ve been the catalyst to your death, and you didn’t care.’” responded Maritza.

But love letters were not enough. Once Salvador’s roommate was transferred, they made arrangements to be together in the same room.

Salvador describes the moment Maritza was rolled in to the room.

“It was almost three weeks later that we got to touch, kiss each other. Which was amazing. Amazing! My baby,” he explained.

Their love and affection was not lost on nurses who worked on the third floor. Maritza said they re-named it the “honeymoon suite.”

Maritza and Salvadora have been married for 21 years. The longest they’d been apart before covid-19 was two days when Maritza took a trip to Kansas.

Both are recovering from the physical toll coronavirus took on them.
They are hoping to leave the hospital in the coming days so they can recuperate at home.

Salvador is retired. Now 52-year-old Maritza says she too wants to retire too and spend her time with Salvador.

Article Topic Follows: Health

Saul Saenz

El Paso native Saul Saenz is a veteran reporter who also hosts ABC-7 Extra.


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