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VIDEO: First critical care COVID-19 patient discharged from Grand Rapids hospital

The patient at Mercy Health Saint Mary's was pushed out in a wheelchair through a hallway lined with applauding nurses.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Mercy Health Saint Mary's shared some hopeful news Wednesday evening: the staff discharged its first COVID-19 patient from critical care.

In a Facebook post the Grand Rapids hospital said, "This is what our remarkable health care colleagues on the front lines of COVID-19 are fighting for. #YouAreRemarkable."

The video shows the patient, Chad Kauffman, in a wheelchair, being pushed through a hallway lined on both sides with applauding nurses. 

As Kauffman was about to exit, someone out of the frame asked if he would like to say anything. With emotion and gratitude in his voice, the patient turned and said, "Just thank you for saving my life. It means everything to me. I don't know what else to say, but thank you."

Mercy Health Saint Mary’s discharged their first COVID-19 critical care patient today. This is what our remarkable health care colleagues on the front lines of COVID-19 are fighting for. #YouAreRemarkable

Posted by Mercy Health on Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Kauffman had been hospitalized for about 3 weeks before he was discharged. He first started feeling ill with what he thought was a head cold in early March. By March 19, he was admitted into the hospital and almost immediately put on a ventilator. 

"I remember having just weird dreams while I was on the ventilator, being trapped underneath rubble, feeling like I was trying to scream out for help and I couldn't," Kauffman said on Thursday.

When he was discharged on April 8, Kauffman said he mostly just thankful for the health care workers. 

“I looked at it as being more of an applaud for the people that took care of me," he said. "They really are the heroes of the people that are fighting this virus."

Jeana Smits, BSN, RN, CCRN, clinical service manager of clinical care at Saint Mary's, said Kauffman was the first, but there have already been other patients recover in the time since.

“There’s more and there will continue to be more," Smits said. 

Smits said they are now celebrating every time a patient gets off a ventilator. 

"Hope is necessary to get through this," she said. 

As for Kauffman, he will continue to take his physical recovery day by day. 

“Spend time with my wife, give the dogs a hug and just be at home," he said. 

Kauffman said he is working up the strength to hopefully next week be able to walk to the mailbox without his cane.

As of April 8, there are more than 20,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Michigan and a total of 959 deaths. Officials are now recording and reporting the number of patients who have recovered from the virus -- which is 56 people, according to the state's website. 

See the full cumulative data here

Here is our full 13 ON YOUR SIDE coronavirus website

Do you have more questions about COVID-19 in Michigan? Check out the state's website.

STATE RECOMMENDATIONS FOR COVID-19

Patients with confirmed infection have reportedly had mild to severe respiratory illness with symptoms of:  

  • Fever  
  • Cough  
  • Shortness of breath  

The best prevention for viruses, such as influenza, the common cold or COVID-19 is to:  

  • If you think you have been exposed to COVID-19, call your health care provider. If you do not have a health care provider, call the nearest hospital.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for 20 seconds. If not available, use hand sanitizer. 
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.     
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or upper sleeve when coughing or sneezing.    
  • Avoid contact with people who are sick.    
  • If you are sick, stay home, and avoid contact with others.    
  • Stay at least 6 feet away from others when in a public setting.  

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