Ronald's Story

Ronald Knaus.


Back tending the fields he loves

In early April, Ronald Knaus became so short of breath, his wife, Debra, drove him to the emergency room. There, the 74-year-old retired farmer tested positive for COVID-19.

Ronald’s condition deteriorated and he was placed on a ventilator and breathing tube.

For 26 days, Ronald fought for his life. As May approached, he stabilized enough to be taken off the ventilator, but was still weak and in need of high-flow oxygen support. Debra chose Select Specialty Hospital – Lincoln. The hospital was nearly three hours from their home in Hildreth, Nebraska, but Debra felt its experience treating medically complex patients would help Ron heal.

He arrived May 6 and was immediately placed in isolation. Ron wanted to get back to his family, so a physician-led team of nurses and therapists created a plan to help him achieve that goal.

After testing negative twice for the virus, Ron moved to a regular room.

Respiratory therapists coached him through deep breathing and chest exercises on a daily basis. A week and a half after arriving, Ron was strong enough to discontinue oxygen support.

Ron worked with physical and occupational therapy, standing up and walking for the first time in weeks. He passed a swallowing test and was allowed to resume a regular diet.

Just after Memorial Day, Ron left our hospital for an inpatient rehabilitation hospital, where he continued building strength and stamina. We were thrilled to give him the heroic send-off he deserved.

In June, we checked in on Ron. After successfully completing rehab, he was home. He couldn’t come to the phone, Debra said, because he was out in the fields, checking irrigation equipment.