Army Reserve Veteran Moves to Rehab after Seven Weeks on Ventilator

Army Reserve Veteran Moves to Rehab after Seven Weeks on Ventilator

Gary Degrijze thanks healthcare heroes that cared for him at Stony Brook University Hospital. Photo from Stony Brook Medicine

Gary Degrijze, an Army veteran, has climbed out of a deep health hole caused by COVID-19.

Gary sees his wife Ana for the first time in over two months. He was admitted into Stony Brook University Hospital on March 22 and discharged on June 5. Photo from Stony Brook Medicine

A Bellport resident and father of four, Degrijze, 48, spent seven weeks on a ventilator at Stony Brook University Hospital, clinging to life.

“When he was in the [Intensive Care Unit], he lost his pulse at least two times,” Jerry Rubano, a doctor in Trauma/ Acute Care/ Surgical Critical Care in the Department of Surgery at Stony Brook Medicine, said in a press release. “His kidneys stopped working for about a month where he was on continuous dialysis and his lungs were probably some of the worst that we’ve seen. He was as sick as can be.”

The medical team at Stony Brook stayed in touch with Gary’s wife Ana Degrijze every day, providing updates on his health.

“I had a nurse calling me every day after the rounds were done,” Degrijze said in the release. “I thought that was so great.”

Degrijze had a tracheostomy and was taken off the ventilator on May 11. After he no longer needed the ventilator, he saw his wife and four children after two months.

“I don’t remember anything that happened while I was intubated,” Degrijze said..

Degrijze, who was discharged on June 5, is in rehab, where he will work on regaining motion in his arms. He would like to serve another five years in the Army Reserve and retire after 20 years of service.

Degrijze has “truly made a remarkable recovery,” Rubano said. “His determination and the dedication of the team taking care of him have made all the difference.”