- March 5, 2015
Richie Nieves is back at home, recuperating with his family — wife Tammy and children Kai, left, and Ambriah.
OCOEE — He was supposed to be gone just four days.
But during a business trip to California last month, Richie Nieves was having pain in one of his legs, and by that night, his entire body was shaking uncontrollably. After a visit to an urgent-care facility, he was rushed to Eisenhower Medical Center, where the Ocoee husband and father of two would remain for 25 days, undergoing treatment for necrotizing fasciitis.
This bacterial infection, commonly called a “flesh-eating infection,” spreads quickly, destroying the body’s soft tissue. Doctors stopped the infection from spreading beyond his leg; they do not know how he contracted it.
While he recuperated in the California hospital, his wife, Tammy, was by his side; their children, Ambriah, 5, and Kai, almost 2, were being cared for by family.
In the three-and-one-half weeks he was in the hospital, Richie Nieves had eight surgeries to clear and drain the infection from his leg, and although he was ultimately healthy enough to return to Florida to finish his healing, doctors said the only way he could go home was if he took a medical flight with a nurse on board.
Insurance wouldn’t pay the flight expense but did approve coverage for a two- to three-month stay at a long-term acute-care facility in California.
“This is not an option for this loving father and family man,” said Amber Kozawick, a close friend who posted updates last week on a Go Fund Me fundraising site. “The best environment for him to be in for healing of his soul and body is now home, with his wife and children.”
Family members withdrew money from their retirement fund to pay for the flight, which cost $17,000, and the Nieveses are home now; but Richie and Tammy are trying to raise funds to repay the money and to help pay medical bills that are expected to reach $20,000.
Richie Nieves’ condition currently is stable. He had a wound vac placed on his leg last week, and it will be there for about eight weeks. He is getting nursing care and wound care at home. He has to go weekly to a wound clinic for a doctor to check on the healing process. Last week, there were four open wounds on his left leg.
He cannot return to work for at least seven weeks. He is an implementation consultant for a software company based out of Santa Monica.
Nieves’ young children are glad to finally have their father home.
“Kai is still a little too young to realize what is going on, so it’s hard to tell with him,” Tammy Nieves said. “It really affected Ambriah pretty hard. She prayed every night for Daddy to get better and for us to be a family again.”
HOW TO HELP
To make a donation to the Nieves family, visit gofundme.com/i5nl6s?pc=mb_em. So far, about $7,000 has been raised.
Contact Amy Quesinberry Rhode at [email protected]