Tommie's Story

Tommie hugging his wife outside of the front doors of the hospital.

After Tommie Taylor got cancer in the 1980s, the former county sheriff’s deputy underwent treatment. When surgery left him unable to speak above a whisper, he transitioned to working for Ozark County’s Courthouse until retirement more than 20 years later. Not one to rest, the 68-year-old cut firewood, tended his land and maintained rental properties with his wife.

When periodic weakness began overtaking him, Tommie grew concerned and went for a COVID-19 test. It was positive, and his oxygen levels were low. He returned home with steroids, antibiotics and oxygen machine.

“One morning my wife came in from the garage and noticed I was pale. She put me in the car and drove to the emergency room at Baxter Regional,” he said.

There, he was placed on high-flow oxygen and treated with convalescent plasma. In all, he spent 22 days in intensive care, which left him weak and dependent for all needs.

His pulmonologist recommended a critical illness recovery hospital for the next step in healing.

“It took several days for my oxygen level to get low enough for safe transport, but once it did I moved to Select Specialty Hospital – Springfield,” he said. “My goal was to get back to living and enjoying life.”

Tommie felt confident as soon as he came through the hospital doors. “I knew this place would help me. I knew I would walk out of there with my wife, hand-in-hand.”

Physical and occupational therapists immediately began a mobility program. Twice a day, they led Tommie through weight-bearing exercises that strengthened muscles and light weights to build endurance.

Soon, he was able to stand and take several steps to a chair. Several days later, he ventured into the hallway with a rolling walker, with assistance.

Working with respiratory therapists and pulmonary physicians, Tommie did deep breathing and chest exercises to expand lung capacity. He weaned from high-flow oxygen, stepping down to a lower flow.

“The staff was a positive influence in my recovery,” he said. “They looked at my success as their success. All therapy team members did a great job of getting me up and walking. Some days, I did better than others, but they kept pushing me.”

During Tommie’s stay, COVID-19 visitation restrictions eased and his wife was able to come for daily visits, lifting his spirits.

After two months, Tommie met all goals and was ready to go home and enjoy a cup of coffee on the front porch.

“I learned that I really need to slow down and enjoy life as well as people around me,” he said. “Everyone on this wonderful team of professionals, and most of all God, played a part in my recovery and helped me heal.”