Mother-daughter duo partner with Montefiore to create virtual COVID-19 recovery support group

Editor's note: This story was first published in November 2020.
A mother-daughter duo who had a scary encounter with coronavirus during the pandemic's peak are using their experience to help and support others.
In early spring, Darlene Cruz was hospitalized with COVID-19 and put on a ventilator. After several weeks of being in a coma, she survived the virus but still struggles with lingering symptoms.
"I had to learn to speak, eat, drink water, talk, lift my arm," Cruz says.
Like many others, Cruz says she suffers with physical and mental trauma even after beating the virus, including delusions and hallucinations.
She says, "To be reduced to this person that needs help with everything, I started feeling bad feelings about myself."
Cruz and her daughter started a COVID-19 recovery peer support group as part of their existing nonprofit, Empowering Marginalized Women and Girls.
The group partnered with Montefiore's COVID-19 recovery and engagement clinic to help bring survivors and their families together.
The free virtual group meets once a week, including Dr. Aluko Hope, a doctor from the Montefiore clinic.
The group says they plan to keep supporting the community and evolve as things continue to change.