Dinuba pastor recovering from COVID-19 after two weeks in ICU

Pastor Mark Wallace spent 24 days at Kaiser Permanente in northeast Fresno and has returned home.
DINUBA, Calif. (KFSN) -- A South Valley pastor has returned home to recover after becoming critically ill with the coronavirus.

Pastor Mark Wallace of Living Word Fellowship in Dinuba said, "It's surreal because there was a point where I was convinced I wasn't going to walk out of that hospital."

Wallace spent 24 days at Kaiser Permanente in northeast Fresno. He needed a ventilator to breathe and spent two weeks in the ICU.

Dr. Elisa Avik explained, "He was placed in a medically induced coma and he was turned in what we call a prone position, so essentially sleeping on his stomach."

But on Thursday, Wallace was wheeled out in front of cheering employees as the hospital's first patient on a ventilator to go home.

"All I could do is what I do all the time and that's cry," he admitted.

Wallace and his wife Tammy were both infected though the pastor's case was much more serious.

Relatives and friends gave him the strength to fight the virus.

"Honestly, I don't think that he would have had the level of motivation that he did to get out of the hospital without their support," said Dr. Avik.

Wallace also credited the power of prayer. The congregation in Dinuba greeted the two of them with signs and cheers as they welcomed them back.

Wallace said, "I never dreamed I would get this and I never dreamed I would be on a ventilator but that's the danger of this. It's the unseen enemy."

Many people have been itching for a return to the kind of life they had before the coronavirus but Dr. Avik believed we need to be patient.

She said, "It makes me really nervous to have people go back out into the community because I'm worried about the second surge."

Dr. Avik was not alone in that regard.

Pastor Wallace planned to resume on-line services next week but after all he's been through, he was in no hurry to preach in public.

He said, "Even when it's okay, I'm only going back when I feel people are safe."

Wallace, a Tulsa native, described the virus as a tornado, devastating some homes while skipping others.

For more news coverage on the coronavirus and COVID-19 go to ABC30.com/coronavirus
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