Lodi business owner fighting for his life against COVID-19

Popular Lodi restaurateur Job Sanchez is battling for his life against COVID-19. (Princesa Rodriguez/Courtesy)

Janelie Sanchez described her father Job as a caring, friendly and funny man. The 52-year-old owner of the Casa Mexicana restaurant at 1110 W. Kettleman Lane has been known to help raise funds for local schools, as well as help those in the community with medical bills.

But his bright and upbeat demeanor was slowly taken from him last month when he tested positive for COVID-19.

“Whoever comes through the door, no matter who you are, he knows you or he doesn’t know you, he’ll act like he’s known you forever,” Janelie Sanchez said.

Janelie Sanchez said her parents went on vacation last fall, and two weeks after returning, her father came down with a slight cold.

She said her father was scheduled to have a procedure done on his back, and went to an emergency room to have a COVID-19 test beforehand. Three weeks after returning from vacation, Job Sanchez tested positive for the virus.

While he was in the ER, Janelie Sanchez said her father began experiencing shortness of breath. A nurse said he could take oxygen tanks home, as he did not want to be in a hospital overnight.

He was home for two days, and things took a turn for the worse, she said.

“My mom was with him in the room, she said she looked over at him and he was just kind of breathing really heavy, but his eyes were closed,” she said. “My mom was trying to get his attention, he wouldn’t wake up and she started to panic. An ambulance came, paramedics tried to wake him up, and they said they were going to take him to the ER.”

Job Sanchez was taken to Adventist Health Lodi Memorial on Dec. 10, and after one week, he seemed to be getting better. He was able to Facetime with the family, but speaking took a lot out of him, Janelie Sanchez said.

Two days into his second week at the hospital, Janelie Sanchez said everything went downhill.

After two weeks at Lodi Memorial, her father was transferred to Mills Peninsula Hospital in San Mateo, where the family was told he would be given an extracorporeal membrane oxygenation — or ECMO — treatment.

However, upon arrival, staff said Job Sanchez was ineligible because he had been sick with COVID for two weeks.

Janelie Sanchez said staff told the family ECMO treatments are for those who have been fighting the virus for a short period of time.

“He’s been given steroids, plasma, and other treatments, but nothing is working,” she said. “They’re saying he might not make it and he’s not going to get better anytime soon or at all. Everyone is praying for him, everyone believes he can make it back, so we’re leaving him the way he is.”

Janelie Sanchez said her mother and younger sister also tested positive for COVID-19, but their symptoms were not as severe. Her mother had what seemed to be a cold for a couple days before recovering, Her sister was asymptomatic.

She doesn’t know why her father’s case is worse than the others, but she and friend Princesa Rodriguez began wondering if underlying health conditions related to his career as a welder more than two decades ago may have been a factor.

She said all of her father’s organs are fine, except for his lungs.

Rodriguez has known Job Sanchez almost her entire life, and saw the pain and uncertainty his family was going through. She said he had helped raise donations for several other families in the community over the years, including hers when her stepbrother was fighting cancer. He had even helped the family of a teenage girl who had been assaulted at Beckman Park.

Rodriguez wanted to help the Sanchez family in some way, but didn’t want to do anything without their permission.

At first, she created an online group prayer through social media, inviting the public to pray for Job Sanchez and his family.

“Janelie reached out to me and told me he was sick,” Rodriguez said. “I had been telling her I wanted to start a GoFundMe page, but I didn’t want to overstep my boundaries without asking them. I had actually started it (Saturday), but I hadn’t finished it. But then she actually reached out to me and asked me if I would start it.”

Rodriguez launched the GoFundMe Sunday, and as of Tuesday, she had raised $9,320 of her $20,000 goal to help pay for medical expenses.

“He’s a great man,” she said. “He’s helped so many people. He’s very selfless. I know a lot of the community knows that, because in the two or three days (the GoFundMe has been online), I’ve raised a lot of money. A lot of people are thinking of him and praying for him. He’s just a good person.”

Janelie Sanchez lives in Valley Springs, and commutes into Lodi every day to help her mother and sister run the restaurant. An aunt and family friends have also helped out, she said, and relatives have to come to visit for support.

“He’s not able to talk to us but at least he can hear us,” she said. “We were all able to talk to him, and I think it was good for everyone to see that he’s still there, he’s still trying and he’s giving it his all.”

Not only has she helped out at the restaurant, but she’s been handling most of the communications with medical staff in San Mateo caring for her father, as well as with family and friends who want to know what is going on.

“It’s been hard on my mom because when he first went to the ER, she did not want to go to the ER at all,” she said. “I told her she needed to do something so she’s not thinking about it. Come to work, just a couple hours, whatever you feel like, just come. So now she’s at work full time.”

Janelie Sanchez said she and her father are very close, and that he is like her best friend.

“He’s an all around good guy,” she said. “He’s super funny, too. He’ll always try to crack jokes with you. Even if you look like you’re not in the mood, he does not care. He’ll always try to make you laugh.”

To donate to the Sanchez family, visit gofund.me/71fc7b74.

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