Demetrius' Story

Real estate agent rebounds after COVID

Before the pandemic hit, Demetrius Daniels was a busy Detroit real estate agent. As COVID-19 gripped the nation, Michigan was particularly hard-hit. Despite precautions, the 57-year-old began feeling weak and run down. Five days passed with no relief, so Demetrius called his son, a registered nurse.

One positive rapid COVID-19 test later, the family was on the phone to 911. An ambulance arrived and took Demetrius him to Sinai Grace Hospital. There, he struggled to breathe. Placed in isolation, further testing revealed a blood stream infection.

The virus began its steady march, sending Demetrius into respiratory failure. Connected to a ventilator, he later received breathing and feeding tubes.

For 50 days, Demetrius battled for his life.

When Demetrius’ condition stabilized, his family could consider the next step in care. They chose Select Specialty Hospital – Northwest Detroit due to its proximity and experience liberating medically complex patients, including COVID-19 survivors, from ventilators.

He arrived unable to make eye contact, speak, move or interact with people. The family hoped to free Demetrius of the machine and get him back to normal life.

Respiratory therapists began trialing monitored bursts of time off the ventilator. Within two weeks Demetrius’ lungs were strong enough to tolerate a speaking valve inserted into the tracheostomy, which retrained the upper airways.

Speaking was a key turning point, Demetrius said, because it meant he was coming back. Over time, he no longer required the ventilator.

Simultaneously, physical and occupational therapists worked with Demetrius to regain strength. Like many COVID-19 patients, he was profoundly weak. Therapy was performed in small increments – as little as 10 minutes – to conserve energy. Nurses encouraged mobility by assisting him to the bed’s edge. Sitting built core strength, opened the lungs and was mentally stimulating. Each day, stamina returned until there was another turning point – Demetrius stood, turned and transferred to the chair.

Occupational therapists built dexterity and grip through hand and arm exercises. Soon, he could wash, shower and brush teeth with assistance.

Speech language pathologists monitored swallowing abilities. Working with dietitians, Demetrius transitioned from a tube feeding to regular, modified meals.

Through it all, his family was a constant source of support. Restrictions in place to protect patients and staff from COVID-19 prevented in-person visitation, but they connected through regular phone and video calls.

“I could not have been admitted to a better place,” Demetrius said.  “Select gives professional care. I’m so grateful that my family chose this for me when I was unable to do so.”

After a month and a half at Select Specialty Hospital, Demetrius departed for a skilled nursing facility to continue working on regaining further independence. He is determined to get there with the goal of  marrying his fiancé and visiting Hawaii.