COVID-19 Patient Discharged Home after 133 Days in the Hospital
January 27, 2022
SRMC staffers, friends and loved ones celebrated the discharge of Mr. Willie (Buddy) Ward from Sumner Regional Medical Center earlier today. His discharge marks a 133-day journey to recovery from COVID-19 and Buddy is grateful to be on his way home to Westmoreland.
“No one thought I was going to make it,” Ward explained. Transported by helicopter on September 17, 2021 to a facility downtown when his O2 stats fell below 70%, Ward was treated at two different hospitals in the Nashville area before he was stable enough to be transferred to the Inpatient Rehab Unit at SRMC. When he arrived at Sumner in early December, Mr. Ward was too weak to raise his arm and shake hands with the physician overseeing his care.
“I had lost all of my motor skills and I was very weak; I was basically a 60-year-old baby when I got here. This staff is so good at what they do, and they have been here to help me every step of the way. The day shift, the night shift, the nurses, therapists and doctors—you can tell they like their jobs,” Ward stated. He also understands healthcare workers are pandemic weary from the past 24 months. He hopes seeing him recover will motivate his caregivers to stay the course. “Maybe that was the reason I survived, to let them know their work matters.”
And it does matter. Today, Buddy walked out of the hospital with his family, waving to a cheering crowd. “It was important to celebrate Mr. Ward’s recovery and discharge, not only with him, but with our staff as well,” shared Susan Peach, CEO for SRMC and HighPoint Health System. “There have been some very dark days during this pandemic but seeing Mr. Ward stand and walk out our front door, that was a bright spot. The sun is shining today, both outdoors and inside our hospital walls.”
Buddy’s advice for others still hesitant to get the COVID-19 vaccine? “You better get the vaccine. You don’t want to go through this.” In fact, during his hospitalization, his wife, Vickey, shared and texted photos of him on the ventilator with unvaccinated friends and loved ones hoping to encourage them to get the shot. She has been by his side these past few months doing all she could to support him. “I don’t think I would have made it through this without her,” Ward said.
Following his discharge, Mr. Ward plans to continue therapy at an outpatient facility near his home. He and his wife will also be celebrating their 42nd wedding anniversary in February.
Mr. Ward’s Journey – by the numbers
- 9/13/21 – Tested positive for COVID
- 9/17/21—Life-flighted downtown when O2 stats dropped into the 60’s.
- 3—hospital admissions—2 in Nashville before being transferred to SRMC
- 9—weeks spent on a ventilator
- 1—cardiac arrest code
- 6—chests tubes at one time during his treatment
- 208—his weight prior to contracting COVID-19
- 58—pounds he lost during his hospitalization
- 1/27/2022—headed home to sleep in his own bed!
- 1—devoted wife, Vickey, who has been by his side throughout this journey
- 42—years of marriage they know they are lucky to celebrate in February