Virginia paramedic heads home after battle with COVID-19

After 28 days in the hospital with COVID-19, a Northern Virginia paramedic finally got to head home Tuesday evening.

Doctors, nurses, and fellow first responders cheered Sam Neglia on as he was wheeled out of Inova Loudoun Hospital in Leesburg.

Neglia, who has been a paramedic with the Sterling Volunteer Rescue Squad for eight years, contracted COVID-19 while on the job.

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During his stay at Inova, he was intubated and spent time in the Intensive Care Unit. Family couldn’t visit, friends couldn’t either, and yet the first thing Neglia told his boss after being released was he can’t wait to get back to work.

“We will have to absolutely calm him down and keep him tied down to not run more calls,” said Loudoun County Combined Fire & Rescue System Chief Keith Johnson. “That’s quite admirable to be a volunteer, experience this, and want to go back to volunteering.”

And if you ask the people who cared for Neglia, like Inova Loudoun Clinical Director Debbie Toland, it’s incredibly inspiring too.

“It just gives us hope. It encourages us to keep continuing what we do,” she said.

As for Neglia, he mostly let everyone else do the talking. He did thank his coworkers for bringing him his first Starbucks Latte in weeks, he also worked in a quick line about his significantly-slimmer physique (“I do not recommend this as a weight loss method”), and because he has some trouble speaking right now due to his treatment, he asked Toland to share a message on his behalf.

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“He said that this was a perfect example of teamwork between EMS and Loudoun taking care of our own,” Toland said.

Taking care of their own is something Loudoun first responders have been doing a lot of lately. Neglia is one of seven first responders within the Loudoun County Combined Fire & Rescue System who has tested positive for COVID-19.