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Popular food truck chef now free of COVID-19, but still has long road to recovery

Ray Burdier is weak, but he’s grateful to be alive.
Ray Burdier is weak, but he’s grateful to be alive.

MIAMI – Ray Burdier is weak, but he’s grateful to be alive.

The 56-year-old who runs the popular Pizza En Fuego food truck in Miami spent part of the summer in a coma and hooked to a ventilator at Mercy Hospital after contracting COVID-19 in July.

“I still got the scar from the mask where they turn you upside down,” he said.

In total, seven members of his family tested positive for COVID-19.

Neither his family nor his own doctors knew if he’d survive in the hospital’s Covid wing.

“Everybody in the room, there were six people there, I was the only survivor is what I was told,” Burdier said. “I made it so I’m here for a reason.”

Fast forward to current day, where Burdier is 70 pounds lighter and Covid free, but he’s considered a Covid long hauler.

“Shortness of breath, i can’t walk, I’m bed bound without the therapy I’m supposed to get, and they want to get rid of me out of here,” he said.

The pizza chef who is insured just had his gallbladder removed and must now be discharged into a rehab facility.

The problem is, Burdier said at least 49 facilities have turned him away over the terms of his coverage, including Mercy Hospital in Miami, which has its own rehab wing.

“It’s unfortunate you have to go through one and then you have to go through another because of the bureaucracy,” he said.

Ultimately Burdier wants to stay, and he made a promise to his supporters and prayer partners for when he is healed.

“When I get out, they all can come by for free pizza,” he said.

Local 10 News reached out to Mercy Hospital, which released a statement that read:

Mercy Hospital medical staff evaluate the patient to determine if they are a candidate for a rehabilitation program. Once the patient is deemed a candidate, Mercy Hospital contacts their insurance company for benefit availability and approval. If not approved for inpatient rehabilitation, Mercy Hospital works with the patient, family, and insurance company to determine the best alternative rehabilitation services available.

We understand that this is a difficult decision, and we continue to offer guidance and support to the patient and the patient’s family. Ultimately the decision resides with the insurance company.

About the Author:

Terrell Forney joined Local 10 News in October 2005 as a general assignment reporter. He was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, but a desire to escape the harsh winters of the north brought him to South Florida.