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Oldham County man grateful to nurses for COVID-19 care after weeks spent in ICU

Phillip Draper said he's grateful to celebrate Christmas with his family after he spent weeks...
Phillip Draper said he's grateful to celebrate Christmas with his family after he spent weeks in the hospital with COVID-19.(WAVE 3 News)
Published: Dec. 25, 2020 at 11:30 AM EST
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LA GRANGE, Ky. (WAVE) – An Oldham County man is grateful to celebrate Christmas with his family after he spent weeks in the hospital with COVID-19.

On Saturday, Phillip Draper was released from Baptist Health La Grange after 25 days battling the coronavirus. He spent most of that time in ICU on maximum oxygen support; he credits the nurses and therapists who cared for him during his recovery.

“I was there and they were my family and words can’t describe how thankful I am for everything,” he said. “Besides the regular nursing duties, she would spend a little time with me, hold my hand and she just made sure I was taken care of.”

Draper’s family and his caretakers reunited Thursday on Zoom for the first time since he was discharged.

“There was only going to be two outcomes, the one that we’re in today or the other so we’re very thankful that he’s here,” daughter Kara Taylor said.

In the hospital, Draper was apart from his family for Thanksgiving, his anniversary and his 65th birthday. Respiratory therapist Lisa Houle made sure his birthday was celebrated with a surprise party complete with decorations and pie.

“We got through those nights and I was able to start turning his oxygen down with my team and it was really exciting,” she said. “Everybody deserves to have a joyful birthday, regardless of where they’re at.”

Draper also expressed his thanks to nurse Yavette Lemmons, who motivated him to pass the breathing test he needed to be discharged.

“And I told him, you’re going to get out of here, you’re going to pass the six-minute walk test, you’re going home, you’re defeating COVID you’re not staying here,” she said.

After failing the test once, Draper passed with Lemmons’ encouragement. He called his release from the hospital the ultimate gift.

“She just held my hand, told me it’s going to be OK, and that meant a lot to me,” he said.

Draper still has a long road ahead to full rehabilitation and continues to use oxygen. Draper’s wife Sue also tested positive for the virus but was not hospitalized. They both plan to donate plasma to help other COVID-19 patients recover.

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