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LAKEWOOD, Colo. (KDVR) — A Denver area healthcare worker on the frontlines of COVID-19 is now in critical condition with the illness. 

Roman Valles is a respiratory therapist. He helps people who need inhalers, nebulizers, ventilators and other breathing treatments.

His family also describes him as a “gentle giant” who loves to make people laugh. 

“This particular brother is like my son,” Valles’ sister, Monica Rosa, told FOX31. 

Valles’ skills have been in high demand during the pandemic. According to his sister, he moved to a PRN, or “as needed” position at the Denver area hospital where he works. 

The move allowed him to leave Colorado for short-term critical assignments with COVID patients in New York and Texas while still maintaining a position at the hospital in Colorado. 

“He just loved knowing he was helping people,” Rosa said. 

She says he contracted COVID-19 after about a month working near Dallas, TX. 

“Right now he’s critical,” she said. “I am worried about him. Super worried about him.”

Rosa says her brother has a collapsed lung, is in renal failure and went into cardiac arrest over the course of the last week. 

“He’s helped people fight their COVID battle and now he needs a fair chance to fight his own,” Rosa said. 

She says he is so sick, he needs to be moved to a hospital with a higher level of care. The problem is, he is uninsured because his position is not considered full time.

“With the PRN positions they don’t offer health benefits,” Rosa said. “He went ahead and sacrificed that to take the crisis assignments and that’s why he doesn’t have health insurance.”

Rosa says without insurance, the family is responsible for finding another hospital that will accept Valles as a patient and to secure and pay for a medical helicopter for transport him. 

They have started a fundraiser to try and come up with enough money. 

“And he’s been scared through the whole thing because he knows exactly what’s going to happen or what could happen,” Rosa said.