MINNEAPOLIS (FOX 9) - For anyone, getting released from the hospital is cause for celebration, but when you are recovering from COVID-19, it can feel like a medical miracle.
Friday afternoon, hospital staff at Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis lined the hallway to give Steve Soeffker a standing ovation for overcoming the virus. He shared his gratitude with poster-sized thank you card, calling his saviors "frontline heroes."
“I came in basically as a corpse, I guess you could say,” said Soeffker. “This facility has found a way to get me back to health again."
Steve Soeffker first started showing symptoms of coronavirus on April 2. Within hours, paramedics rushed him to a hospital in Glencoe and then airlifted him to Abbott Northwestern. He spent the next 43 days fighting for his life, including two weeks on a ventilator in the ICU.
"I was told by one of the doctors all my organs were shutting down and somehow they got the jumper cables and brought me back," said Soeffker.
For the last two weeks, the 69-year-old retired McLeod County Sheriff’s deputy has been part of a special program to help patients recovering from COVID-19 get strong enough to go home. Instead of moving Soeffker to the Courage Kenny Institute for rehab, his speech, occupational and physical therapists came to his hospital room to keep him away from other patients.
"When people have extreme cases of COVID-19, we find they are very debilitated, which means they have limited movement in arms and legs compared to when they came in, difficulty swallowing, potential cognitive deficits," said James Spendley of the Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute.
Soeffker is just the second patient to be released from the hospital's COVID-19 acute rehab program, but he says if it weren't for all the medical professionals who saved his life, he wouldn't be going home at all.
"God bless them all,” he said. “Every one of them has a piece of my heart and always will and if my heart isn't big enough, I'll find room and we'll get everybody squeezed in there."