NHS staff cheer as Covid patient finally leaves hospital after 195 days
Scotland’s longest coronavirus intensive care patient has finally left hospital after almost 200 days.
Neil McLaughlin was taken to University Hospital Hairmyres in East Kilbride, South Lanarkshire, on November 21 last year with the ‘typical symptoms’ of a cough and shortness of breath. The 63-year-old’s condition quickly deteriorated and he was rushed to the intensive care unit (ICU) where he had to be intubated – for 167 days.
Doctors believe this makes Mr McLaughlin, from Chapelhall in Airdrie, North Lanarkshire, one of – if not the longest – patients requiring intubation as a result of Covid-19 in the entire country.
Hundreds of staff gathered at a safe distance in the reception area of the hospital and on balconies as he was finally allowed home on Friday, accompanied by his partner Wendy Busby.
Mr McLaughlin said: ‘It’s very humbling, it’s fair to say a lot of the staff clapping I’ve never met before but because I’ve been in hospital so long everybody gets to know your story.
‘Me being a guy I decided it was a cold, Wendy being an ex-nurse decided it wasn’t a cold so she booked me a Covid test which came back positive.
‘The first lot I don’t remember too much of because I was sedated for five weeks and I was so full of drugs you don’t really know what’s going on.
‘(The physios) brought my mobility on because I’ve had to learn how to walk again, lying in bed for so long… they’ve all been fantastic, even down to the people who made the tea.
‘[There is] still work to be done but home now so that’s the main thing.’
Not long after leaving Hairmyres, Mr McLaughlin, himself a former support worker, was on a video call with a cousin who was ‘over the moon’ to see him again after getting out.
He added the first thing he intends to do when he gets home will be to ‘make a fuss of the dog’ – and he is looking forward to a steak dinner.
Ms Busby recounted how she spent Christmas day on the phone talking to her partner who was sedated in the hospital ward.
The 55-year-old said: ‘He was in the Covid ICU, he was still Covid positive so there was no chance of getting in, it was just constant phone calls and reassurance from the nurses.
‘I was wishing him a Merry Christmas, telling him what I was doing, it was quite emotional but that how was my Christmas to Neil was spent.
‘The staff were absolutely amazing, not only amazing with Neil but for myself – the comfort they gave me when I used to phone up and as Neil says, it’s not just the doctors and the nurses.’
Dr Chris Keuh, one of the consultant physicians, said: ‘He took a long time to recover, a long time to improve and eventually he was sent down here to ward 10 which is one of our general medical wards.
‘Neil’s worked quite hard, he’s had a good attitude about him and has worked very hard with the physiotherapists and today Neil is able to go home after 195 days in hospital.
‘It’s been fantastic because we’ve seen him week on week get better, it’s not just myself but the entire hospital pulling together and Neil himself improving. We’ll miss him but actually it’s a great sign that people are recovering from this.
‘Although Neil’s time in hospital has come to an end his recovery isn’t at an end at the moment so, unfortunately, he’s still is going to have community physiotherapy coming in to try and help him to build a strength back up.
‘Unfortunately, being in hospital for that length of time has its consequences and we don’t know the full effects of Covid until probably much much later, it’s still up to him to continue to work with the physiotherapist to recover from this.
‘There have been a lot of people that haven’t been as lucky as Neil and unfortunately passed away, there were a few times when actually we didn’t think he was going to survive, and he still managed to pull through so you know it is unusual that he’s taken so long but we’re happy that he’s managed to pull through this and get home.’
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