Recovered COVID-19 patients leave Chicago area hospitals to cheers from healthcare workers

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Powerful video shows recovered COVID-19 patients leaving Chicago area hospitals to resounding rounds of applause from the healthcare workers who saved them.

Advocate Aurora Health says its system surpassed 1,000 COVID-19 patients released this week, all from hospitals across Illinois and Wisconsin. More than 470,000 people around the world have beaten the virus.

Coronavirus in Illinois: Latest news on COVID-19 cases, Chicago area impact

"I appreciate you all got me going this way, and not that way!" said Paul Richards.

There was some humor and a hero's farewell for the Vietnam veteran and retired Chicago firefighter. Richards, 69, knows who the true heroes are.

"You guys jumped right into action," Richards said. "Without no hesitation. Just like when I was in Vietnam. Told them to go and they went."

ZIP CODE TRACKER: Where is coronavirus in Illinois?

Richards went home from the hospital Tuesday. He is one of many survivors whose story Advocate Aurora Health shared with ABC7.

There was a warm embrace for another survivor, Carmen Benabe. Her family picked up the 86-year-old from Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center in Chicago. She's home tonight.

And with a farewell wave, it's time to go home for 41-year-old Beatriz Newcomb. Everyone who cared for her, she called wonderful.

The simplest of things are symbols of survival for 53-year-old Joseph Ciarlette. Discharged from Advocate Christ Medical Center, the Joliet resident is with his family now.

These are glimpses of human victories and much needed wins during a time of such despair.

Copyright © 2021 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.