David McDermott

Activity was the norm for David McDermott before a recent hospitalization left him bedbound for over a month. David enjoyed hunting and fishing in his spare time and could often be found working on his lawn and maintaining his cars.

One day, David began to feel sick to his stomach. “I couldn’t stop throwing up,” he recalled. “It turns out my stomach had twisted and was in the wrong place.” A trip to the emergency room provided a diagnosis: David had contracted aspiration pneumonia. He was admitted and placed on antibiotics and a ventilator.

“It took two courses of antibiotics to get the pneumonia under control,” David noted. He spent several weeks on the ventilator and, after having it removed for only four days, had to be placed back on the ventilator. A week later, David underwent surgery and had a trach and feeding tubes placed. Finally, after 32 days in the ICU, David transferred to Vibra Hospital of the Central Dakotas in Mandan, ND.

Critical care hospitals, like Vibra Hospital, are a type of specialty hospital designed to provide care for individuals suffering from critical and chronic medical issues. Many patients arrive at Vibra on a ventilator after being in the ICU at a short-term acute care hospital. “We came to Vibra because they are known for weaning people off ventilators,” David stated.

“When I came to Vibra, I was using a trach with a ventilator, could not walk, or even move myself around in bed,” David said. He also relied on tube feedings for nutrition and required maximum assistance with everyday tasks.

But David was prepared to work. And he did just that alongside the clinical specialists at Vibra.

The results were impressive.

David made significant progress with the help of his clinical care team. He was liberated from the ventilator, had his tracheostomy removed, and had entirely weaned off oxygen by the time he discharged. “After six days, the respiratory therapist put in my speech valve and started working to have me breathe on my own. Seven days later, they removed the trach.”

Similarly, David no longer needed his feeding tubes and resumed eating and drinking a regular diet. He engaged in occupational and physical therapy each day and gradually became more independent with his self-care tasks. He began putting on his own socks and shoes, brushing his teeth, washing his face, and independently sitting on the edge of the bed.

Because of the extended time David spent in a hospital bed, he was also severely deconditioned. He had a hard time standing up at first but regained his strength and soon could walk again. “The day before I was discharged from Vibra, I was able to walk the hallway with only a couple of sitting breaks,” David said with a smile.

“The entire staff was so supportive and encouraging, which helped my recovery,” David shared of his experience at Vibra Hospital. “Lisa, the respiratory therapist, was very encouraging and gave me comfort when I was depressed and stressed over how I was doing.”

After a month at Vibra Hospital of the Central Dakotas, David discharged to a rehabilitation facility for more physical therapy to prepare for a safe return home. “I’m going to keep on living and get back to hunting and fishing and helping around the house and yard. I was surviving when I got to Vibra, and their amazing staff got me back to life.”