Life-saving treatment and a future with his daughter

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Life-saving treatment and a future with his daughter


140 days in the Intensive Care Unit.
7 months in the hospital.
1 precious daughter born during that time.
Care and support when it mattered most.


When Santiago Cruz sought care for COVID-19 symptoms in January 2021, he had no idea how long and arduous the road ahead would be — or that he and his family would experience so much generosity and meet so many dedicated Caregivers along the way.

Thanks to donor support, Santiago did not have to worry about getting the care he needed. Gifts to the Greatest Need Fund provided access to life-saving equipment and helped cover the cost of care. His treatment included:

  • 140 days in Centra Lynchburg General Hospital’s Intensive Care Unit.
  • Time on a ventilator.
  • The amputation of his left leg due to vascular issues.
  • A new prosthetic leg donated to Centra by Virginia Prosthetics and Orthotics.
  • Rehabilitation to learn to walk again.

Seven hard months away from his home and pregnant spouse. 

“Everyone fought so hard for him,” said Garry Gellert, PT, DPT, lead physical therapist in Critical Care. “Caregivers lined the hall to clap and cheer him on when he was discharged from the ICU, and then again when he was discharged from the Acute Rehabilitation Center in August. Now he’s like family.”

After learning about the couple’s challenges, acute care nurses Stephanie Stewart, Bridgett Smoot and Dana Stinnett threw Santiago’s wife, Luisa, a baby shower. Caregivers across Centra donated items. Luisa gave birth at Centra Virginia Baptist Hospital in June.

Santiago Cruz and Caregivers


“Words cannot express how proud I am of this team when they have endured such a challenging year,” said Nurse Manager Cindy Daugherty, RN. “It was such an incredible feeling for the staff to be able to help this family and bring joy and kindness to a family in need."

Santiago was receiving care from Centra Specialty Hospital (CSH) when his daughter was born. "On behalf of CSH, we feel so lucky to be a part of Santiago's recovery," said Sarah Cardwell, lead rehab therapist. "For us to be able to take him downstairs and meet his child for the first time was very rewarding. He worked incredibly hard with therapy to regain enough strength and endurance to make it on to the next level of his recovery in acute rehab.  He has an incredible spirit and infectious smile that has carried him through some very difficult times."  

Prior to Santiago’s discharge, his case management team worked on a plan for continued care that would be viable for the family after he returned home. He is now getting additional rehabilitation services through Centra PACE in Lynchburg, a program of all-inclusive care.

“We were all so excited to see him come from where he was then to where he is today,” said Christina Vanleer, coordinator for the Centra Medical Group service line. “It is truly amazing.”


Your gifts provide treatment for life-threatening, chronic and rare illnesses. Support services. Free health screenings. And critical care close to home when it matters most.