Returning to independence
In late spring, Amanda Turner began feeling short of breath and congested. She went to the doctor, and was relieved to learn that, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, it was just a sinus infection.
Days passed and the 33-year-old felt worse. Amanda’s husband, Christopher, drove her to the emergency room. There, she was admitted and diagnosed with pneumonia.
A short time later, she fell into respiratory failure and was placed on a ventilator. When liberation trials failed, Amanda was given a tracheostomy for airway support and feeding tube. Antibiotics resolved the infection, but she remained ventilated and profoundly weak.
Requiring an extended hospital stay, Amanda was transferred to Select Specialty Hospital – Pensacola.
Amanda’s main goal was to return to Christopher, their “fur baby” Nibbler and home in Mobile, Alabama.
A physician-led team, including nurses and therapists, created a plan for success.
Respiratory therapists set a rigorous schedule of breathing exercises and gradually reduced ventilator settings. Five days after arriving, Amanda liberated and stepped down to an attachment that supplied humidified air to her lungs. In short order, airway support was removed and she resumed independent breathing.
Simultaneously, nurses and physical therapists deployed a mobility program, helping Amanda out of bed and into a chair twice a day.
Physical therapists guided exercises with low weights and resistance bands. They fitted Amanda with a walker and supported her as she stood and took several steps. Over time, Amanda was able to walk around in her room, over to the window, bathroom and, finally, down the hallway.
Speech therapy monitored swallowing capabilities, retraining Amanda to eat safely.
Simultaneously, occupational therapists used tasks that strengthened grasp and grip so she could take a shower and perform other self-care independently.
After a month, Amanda met all of her recovery goals and was discharged home to Christopher and Nibbler.