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Days before Christmas in 2020, Dennis King started feeling ill—fever, chills, sweats and severe shortness of breath. His neighbor, a MetroHealth nurse practitioner, called 911, and he was taken to MetroHealth Brecksville Health and Surgery Center. After testing positive for COVID-19, he was transferred to the main campus.

Dennis spent one month as an inpatient—the majority of that time in the ICU. After a couple weeks, he started rehab, mostly working on getting out of the wheelchair and taking a few steps at a time.

As a veteran, Dennis had received most of his medical care at the Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center. However, when it came time for him to be transferred to acute rehab, his daughters started doing research and decided MetroHealth’s Rehab Institute was the best option. “They checked it out and said, ‘Dad, you’re at the best place. It’s five stars.”

And because of the level of care he received while in the ICU, he agreed with them: MetroHealth was the best choice for his recovery.

“Being in the hospital for two and a half months didn’t bother me… I knew I was sick. I was happy to be there, happy to have people pamper me.”

Dennis was an inpatient at MetroHealth’s Rehab Institute for six weeks. When he could maintain his oxygen level at 4 without struggling to breathe, he was ready for discharge. While home, Dennis continued to rehab on an outpatient basis. The first time Dennis met physical therapist Deanna Bouman, he was mostly dependent on a wheelchair and tethered to an oxygen tank.

“When she was done with me, I was walking around and wasn’t on oxygen anymore.” Dennis claims one of his main accomplishments happened when he began walking and doing exercises without a walker. Over the course of 25 sessions through July 2021, Deanna worked with Dennis on his strength, endurance, balance and walking up and down stairs.

After finishing outpatient physical therapy in July 2021, he resumed working out at the gym and got back to another hobby, spending hours in the shop he set up in his basement to make jewelry, including pieces for his therapists.

“Dennis is very independent,” Deanna says. “He was very driven. He wanted to get back to everything he could do before. He was always like, ‘What’s next?’”