In early August, Doug Hines came down with COVID-19 symptoms, including a high fever, dry cough and shortness of breath.
Doug’s son, an ambulance driver with the local hospital’s transport unit, told him to head to the emergency room. Testing confirmed the 63-year-old had the coronavirus.
After walking into the ER, his memory fades. Doug later learned he’d gone into respiratory failure. The insurance agent was the hospital’s first intubated COVID-19 patient.
Over the next three weeks, Doug received a variety of treatments including proning (laid face-down) convalescent plasma and Remdesivir.
Doug’s wife, their four adult children and many grandchildren were thrilled when, in late September, he’d stabilized and was ready for the next phase of recovery. Despite its 130-mile distance from their Wisconsin home, they chose Select Specialty Hospital – Madison for its experience helping medically complex patients liberate from ventilators.
“When I learned I was going to a critical illness recovery hospital, it gave me hope,” Doug said. “And once I started working with the wonderful clinical team, it removed all doubt. I was confident I would eventually beat COVID and get back home.”
A physician-led team, including nurses and therapists, created a plan to help Doug meet that goal.
Respiratory therapists began to coach Doug on breathing and conducted chest exercises, increasing lung function and stamina. Two weeks after arriving, he liberated from the ventilator.
Physical and occupational therapists focused mobility. First, they moved Doug’s arms and legs in range of motion exercises and encouraged in-bed movement. Each day, Doug improved, progressing to sitting, standing and walking with a therapist’s assistance.
Nurses kept Doug comfortable, administered medication and repositioned him to avoid pressure injuries.
Speech therapists added a variety of cognitive and verbal activities to reconnect problem-solving, memory and planning abilities. They also used mouth, tongue and jaw exercises to retrain his swallowing reflex. Once tests indicated Doug could eat safely, dietitians crafted a meal plan that started with ice chips and move through pureed and soft foods as a transition to regular meals.
The food at Select Specialty Hospital, he said, “was 10.5 out of 10.”
By the end of October, Doug met his goals and transferred to an inpatient rehabilitation hospital to continue his recovery. He was excited to move closer to home to a facility adjoining the hospital where his daughter, Angela, had worked.
In early November, after a combined 98 days in an acute ICU, critical illness recovery hospital and rehabilitation facility, Doug triumphantly returned home to Linda and his family.