Cheers and applause greeted a veteran Boston police officer as he was discharged from the hospital Friday afternoon after a terrifying month-long battle with the novel coronavirus.
More than 100 officers and health care providers celebrated Officer Omar Borges as he left Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center surrounded by his family.
Borges, 47, is a member of the department’s citywide drug enforcement unit and has served on the force since 2005, police said.
“It feels like Christmas, New Year’s, all the holidays put together,” Nilsa Borges-Cruz, the officer’s older sister, told reporters. “I have no words to describe the emotion that we’re feeling, our family’s feeling to have him come home.”
Borges-Cruz said the ordeal has “been hell” but faith kept her family going. “We got through this with prayer,” she said. “Just pray, because there’s a higher God out there, and he did this.”
She also expressed gratitude for the support of the Police Department and the care provided by the hospital’s medical staff. “Thank you so much for saving my brother’s life,” she said.
Police Commissioner William G. Gross spoke outside the hospital of the kinship between the “family in blue” of police officers and the “family in blue” of medical providers, mostly wearing pale blue scrubs, who celebrated Borges’ recovery alongside them.
“Quite frankly, we didn’t think he was going to make it,” Gross said as he described Borges’ 28-day ordeal in the hospital, which he said included being connected to a ventilator and placed in a medically induced coma.
“But today, because of the hard work of our health care providers here at [Beth Israel Deaconess], he pulled through,” Gross said. “So much so, he’s raring to get out of there, ready to go.”
Gross said the coronavirus is a deadly serious disease. “It’s already taken the life of one of ours, Officer Jose Fontantez, and many citizens in the city.”
Fontanez, who was 53 and a Boston police officer for 29 years, died April 14.
As of Friday, 78 sworn Boston officers and 13 civilian employees of the department had tested positive for the virus, police said. No others are currently hospitalized, Gross said, and “there’s been no cuts or delays in service from the Boston Police Department, Fire Department, or EMS.”
“We can’t take a break from the front lines,” Gross said. “We have to be out here every day.”