LOS ANGELES, Calif. – After spending nearly 50 days in the hospital, one veteran’s COVID-19 case taught doctors a lot about the virus.

For a while he had to give up music. Not voluntarily, though. Jerry Salas is a performer through and through. He’s played solo and with the group, 'El Chicano.'

What You Need To Know

  • Jerry Salas was admitted to the VA West LA emergency room on March 29 with COVID-19 pneumonia

  • He was released from the hospital May 15.

  • Total number of vets who have received care at VA Greater LA for COVID-19 110, with 85 hospitalized

  • Salas was one of the first cases of coronavirus at the VA Greater LA's W. LA campus

A few days after his last gig in March he started feeling sick.

“You don’t want to go through what I went through believe me,” said Salas.

Salas has a scar on his neck from surgery he underwent in order to be able to breathe.

The Vietnam veteran spent more than a month at the VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System’s West Los Angeles campus. He was in a medically induced coma with multi-organ failure. 

He was one of their first critically ill COVID-19 patients.

“Every treatment decision was agonizing because you were trying to make the right decision without having a lot of data and science or experience,” said Dr. Scott Oh, one of the physicians who treated Salas.

This case is important because it helped the medical team learn how to handle the new virus. Every week Oh meets virtually with doctors across four hospital campuses. Dozens listened and learned about Salas’s case.

“It’s why we went into medicine. It’s why we take care of patients. It’s why we work in the hospital… For cases like this and if you have one case like this it kind of refills your tank,” said Oh.



Since Salas was admitted, 110 veterans have received care at the VA Greater Los Angeles for a positive COVID-19 diagnosis; 85 of those patients have been hospitalized.

Salas overcame COVID-19 and his case is helping others through the very same fight.