LONGMONT, Colo. (CBS4) – One of Colorado's first COVID-19 patients to be hospitalized returned to the hospital that treated him for the first time since his release, this time in an effort to thank the people who helped save his career and life. Jacob Larson was first person hospitalized with COVID-19 at UCHealth Longs Peak Hospital last year. He sang for medical workers on Wednesday as part of the hospital's annual summer barbecue.
Larson, a singer who often performs at weddings and other celebrations, surprised many of his former doctors and nurses by singing to them while they ate lunch.
Larson, who has since been vaccinated, wanted his performance to serve as a thank you to workers while also being a testimony for why others should get their vaccines.
"On March 22, 2020, right when COVID was starting, I was admitted to the ICU," Larson told CBS4.
Larson was intubated for 13 days and was hospitalized for 20. For the first time since being discharged, Larson met with one of the doctors who saved his life.
"Jacob! Hi, I am Dr. Rauf. I admitted you to this hospital. It is so good to see you," physician and Hospitalist Dr. Aiman Rauf told Larson as they embraced.
Rauf said she was once concerned that Larson's singing career would be over.
"I was worried that he would never be able to sing again," Rauf said.
While the annual barbecue isn't new for UCHealth staff, being serenaded by a former patient was a unique and welcoming experience for most.
"It's a surreal experience to be able to come and perform for the people who saved my life," Larson said.
While grateful for the ability to once again be with the staff at UCHealth, Larson said he hoped most people would never have to meet them. Though the vaccine didn't exist when Larson was hospitalized, he has since been vaccinated and said vaccination can help everyone avoid getting sick.
"I'm absolutely encouraging people to get their vaccine. Let's get through this. This is the answer. It is time to move past and do this together," Larson said.
Rauf said every person currently admitted to Longs Peak Hospital due to COVID-19 is unvaccinated.
She said people getting vaccinated would help relieve stress workers are currently experiencing in hospitals worldwide.
"The biggest 'thank you' anyone can give their health care provider is to go get their COVID vaccine," Rauf said. "I'm grateful that he made it to this point because a lot of our patients have not."
for more features.