Derrick Holt has battled kidney disease for several years and, as a result, is also blind. The 49-year-old decided to relocate to Florida to be closer to family.
At a routine dialysis appointment, technicians discovered the catheter permanently installed in his arm to provide easy connection to the machine had become clotted. It was a critical complication that prevented Derrick from having his blood filtered, so an ambulance was called to take him to the emergency room.
There, following a battery of tests, Derrick learned he also had methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), a difficult-to-treat bacterial infection, in his bloodstream.
Derrick’s decision to head to the hospital was a life-saver. He began having trouble breathing and was taken to intensive care. Declining further, he was intubated and placed on a ventilator.
Doctors quickly found the cause of his worsening condition – MRSA had invaded Derrick’s lungs causing pneumonia. Eventually, a tracheostomy was placed.
When Derrick stabilized, his brother Arrington examined options and chose Select Specialty Hospital – Daytona Beach for its experience caring for medically complex patients.
Derrick arrived sedated, on a ventilator, unable to eat, speak, breathe or think clearly.
“I don’t even remember when I got admitted,” Derrick said. “I am just very grateful to be alive.”
Respiratory therapists immediately began ventilator liberation protocols -- a series of breathing, chest exercises and gradual reduction of ventilator settings to increase lung stamina.
Physical therapy worked alongside, deploying a mobility program that had Derrick sitting in bed and transferring to a chair twice daily. Studies show that early movements can increase the chance of ventilator liberation.
He also received dialysis treatments at the bedside and appreciated that the therapists understood he was usually wiped out afterward. They reworked the schedule so he could participate in exercises without becoming exhausted.
Initially, Derrick could not stand for more than a few moments with the help of two therapists. Five days later, Derrick was freed from the ventilator and only required a mask that supplied oxygen to his tracheostomy. He was also fitted for a special valve that allowed him to speak, and, under the guidance of speech therapists, successfully swallowed ice chips, the first step in getting back to real food.
Respiratory therapy also worked with him daily, leading deep breathing and coughing exercises until oxygen support was no longer necessary. The tracheostomy was removed and Derrick resumed independent breathing.
Meanwhile, occupational therapists aided Derrick in re-learning how to dress himself and care for personal needs.
Over time, with help from speech therapists and meal modifications from the dietitians, he resumed a normal diet and the feeding tube was discontinued.
After a month at Select Specialty Hospital, Derrick returned home. He was eager to settle back into his routine among familiar surroundings.
“I am very thankful to all of the staff at Select. I had fantastic care. Everyone cared about my success. I am very thankful, and I am blessed to have had such a great experience.”