ONLY ON: Former COVID-19 patient now delivering food to hospital staff around Jacksonville

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — It’s been almost a year and a half since Michael Cautero was hospitalized for COVID-19. He’s now working to “turn his negative into a positive.”

Cautero started to feel sick in March 2020. He visited two urgent care facilities, where health care workers said it was probably the flu.

“(I had a) very high fever, about 104 for two weeks,” Cautero said. “Really hard to breathe very, very tired and very, very lethargic.”

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Cautero decided to try a third urgent care. Later that day, he was admitted to Baptist South for COVID-19.

“It was the sickest I’ve ever been, by far, in my entire life,” Cautero said. “My wife was pregnant. There are so many unknowns back in that time.”

Almost 18 months later, Cautero, his wife and kids are all healthy. As COVID-19 numbers continue to rise, it prompted him to want to do more to help those on the frontline.

“One night I was just seeing as delta variant cases were growing, saying, ‘Hey, what can we do?’” Cautero said.

Then it dawned on him.

“I’d really like to try to turn it into a positive by donating and organizing food donations,” he said.

He set up a GoFundMe page with a goal of raising $1,000. During the late nights, when his kids were asleep, he would go pick up food and coffee from different businesses and make deliveries to Mayo Clinic, Baptist Health and other nearby hospitals.

Action News Jax’s Meghan Moriarty tagged along on one of his deliveries at UF Health in Hogan’s Creek.

“Whether it’s a nurse or a doctor or janitorial staff, (I’ll) give them a cup of coffee, give them a sandwich,” Cautero said. “Just make their life better, ultimately help treat a patient.”

He’s made a dozen deliveries and plans to keep it going.

“My wife asked me, ‘How long are you going to keep doing this?’ And as long as there’s a need, and as long as there’s money, I’ll keep organizing these deliveries,” Cautero said.

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You can donate to his GoFundMe here. We’ve verified with the hospitals that he delivers food to workers. Moriarty also reached out to GoFundMe and verified the account. Cautero also posts updates on the page, explaining what he used the funds for and where the items were being delivered.

“I think that thoughts and prayers go so far,” Cautero said. “Obviously everybody has to do what they feel comfortable with, but I think that food and feeding people can really change their day and make a day better.”