John's Story

Free from his ventilator, John stands unassisted in his hospital room with his team of caregivers.

Restoring a beloved father to his family

John Molnar felt ill for a few days. When it became tough to breathe, he checked in to his local emergency room where he quickly went into respiratory failure, requiring emergency intubation. He was placed on a ventilator and given airway support.

His daughter, Debbie, feared for her 79-year-old father’s life as he endured a cascade of complications. His hands and legs swelled. He developed anemia and an irregular heart rhythm. Doctors diagnosed pneumonia in both lungs and a pulmonary hemorrhage so large, it required a procedure to drain the excess blood from his lungs.

After several weeks, John rallied back. He was strong enough to liberate from the ventilator and transitioned to a high-flow oxygen tube. Meantime, he was hallucinating and severely confused much of it due to several powerful, intravenous antibiotics. Though he no longer required life-saving intervention in the intensive care, John needed more time to heal. Debbie chose Select Specialty Hospital – Pontiac for its experience treating medically complex patients like her dad.

John arrived in December, weak, confused and requiring oxygen. Debbie hoped we could help clear her dad’s mental fog and return him to the independent life he enjoyed before getting ill.  A physician-led team of therapists, pharmacists and nurses created a plan to help him heal. Respiratory therapists began testing whether John could reduce his reliance on supplemental oxygen. Gradually, they decreased the amount supplied by the tube until John’s lungs were ready to take over. Pharmacists coordinated with John’s cardiologist, pulmonologist and internal medicine doctors to adjust medications that thinned his blood and removed excess water. Nurses kept John comfortable, turning him regularly to avoid pressure injuries. Physical and occupational therapists began our mobility program. A series of small movements, such as rolling over, sitting up in bed and moving from a bed to a chair – all of which help patients begin to regain muscle strength and stamina after a long illness.

John’s mental fog lifted and he was back to his old self. He began taking his first steps with a walker, working in a few more feet each day. Soon, he was lapping the halls and laughing with Debbie. In three weeks, John was ready to go home. A team of visiting health aides would assist the transition, but he was looking forward to enjoying Debbie’s cooking and being back in his own bed.

A month after departing, Debbie provided an update: “Select Specialty did a wonderful job getting my dad back. He is walking around now without a walker. He has strength back for longevity.”