OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — A COVID-19 survivor is going home after nearly ten months in hospitals.
Phil Clevenger was surprised with cheering and clapping health care workers Thursday at Saint Luke's Rehabilitation Institute.
Clevenger first contracted COVID-19 in December 2020 and was admitted to Saint Luke's Hospital on the Plaza on Jan. 1.
He's faced a long and challenging road. Clevenger was intubated until February, had a trach and stayed in the intensive care unit on the Plaza until March.
He would later move to other hospitals until going to Saint Luke's Rehabilitation Institute in July.
The journey has been heartbreaking for his family and wife, Laurie Clevenger.
"It’s just been hard watching him struggle, not knowing many days how he would be when I got here to be with him," Laurie said.
While in the ICU, Clevenger developed Critical Illness Polyneuropathy and Myopathy, which caused him to become extremely weak and barely able to move.
Saint Luke's physical therapist Mary Rush said it took a lot of time and patience to get him up and moving in the beginning.
"Everything is hard, everything is laboring to breathe, everything is fatiguing, so it just takes a lot out of the person just mentally and physically for sure," Rush said.
Laurie and Phil's sons stayed by his side as much as they could. Laurie said their faith in God kept them going even through the darkest moments.
"He just deserves it, he’s worth it all, I wouldn’t be anywhere else," Laurie said.
Phil has a long road ahead of him as he re-learns how to walk. He'll continue doing outpatient therapy at home.
He's excited to get home to his farm and family in Braymer, Missouri.
While the couple wasn't eligible for a vaccine before contracting COVID-19, they have a message for others.
"We just say get vaccinated and do all you can to avoid what we’ve been through," Laurie said.