After spending eight days in the intensive care unit at Backus Hospital in Norwich and eight more days in a step-down COVID-19 unit, Danny Donovan got the news that he was able to go home. News he was not sure he would ever hear.
"My fear and my concern that was actually running through my mind was, 'Is this going to be my last Easter?'" said Donovan.
Donovan, 59, who lives in Salem with his wife and their son, was admitted to the hospital on April 4. He was experiencing shortness of breath and was, almost immediately, placed in the intensive care unit.
COVID-19 had caused pneumonia to take over Donovan's lungs. He depended on oxygen, had a serious cough and experienced fatigue that made it difficult for him to hold a cup of juice.
"Everything my body was doing was focused on fighting this disease and I just had no energy," said Donovan.
Donovan said that he was thankful that he never had to go on a ventilator. After more than two weeks in the hospital, he was discharged on April 20.
Donovan's care team at Backus Hospital said that he was very vocal about how thankful he was for their work. They wanted to do something special for him.
Registered Nurse Bridget Holte walked Donovan from his room to the main lobby of the hospital where dozens of healthcare workers lined the halls, cheering for him in a surprise send-off celebration.
"The patient certainly did not know," said Holte. "I think he was very teary-eyed and I was too. I did not know there would be that many people."
"I was overwhelmed," said Donovan.
Donovan said that it was difficult for him to leave the hospital knowing that, while his fight was over, the Backus team's fight was ongoing. He said that his health care team was a surrogate family during an extremely difficult time, isolated in the hospital with no visitors allowed.
"They were as much a part of my support system emotionally and spiritually as the rest of my friends and family," said Donovan.
He said that the medical workers who lined the hall to say goodbye to him were modern-day heroes and that they deserve all of the credit for his victory.
"It is just wonderful because everyone gets to share in that," said Holte.
Before leaving the building, Donovan yelled to the cheering staff, "Keep up the good work! You guys are awesome!"
Since Monday Backus Hospital has hosted four send-off celebrations for COVID-19 patients. According to a spokesperson, a total of 13 COVID-19 patients have been discharged from Backus Hospital since March.