MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A Maple Grove man is finally home after enduring one of the longest hospital stays in the state. Fifty-year-old Chris Hirte has battled the virus since March 28, 2020, a total of 208 days.
Hirte spent five months in a hospital, two of them on a ventilator, before moving to the transitional care unit in Osseo for the final two months of around-the-clock care.
On Thursday morning, Hirte left the Villa transitional care unit and went home to find “Welcome home Chris” signs lining the street up to his house, and several neighbors, family and friends cheering him in the cul-de-sac. It’s that support system that Hirte credits for his recovery.
“Well I think I’m fortunate to have love and family like I do,” Hirte said. “They supported me.”
Since March, Hirte’s sister and girlfriend took care of him as much as they could. In April, Hirte broke a 108-degree fever, a moment they thought they might lose him.
“They called me in for a compassionate visit because they didn’t think he was going to make it that night,” Dawn Ramaley, Hirte’s sister, said.
Before being admitted to the ICU with COVID-19 the day before his 50th birthday, Hirte was a healthy man and small business owner.
Muscle atrophy from all the immobile months in a hospital bed has caused him to lose mobility in his legs and right hand. And the several months on the ventilator and trach slowed his speech significantly. He plans to use his time at home to get strong again.
“No one has said he won’t recover fully, so that’s our goal and our expectation,” Ramaley said.
Hirte may have beat this deadly virus, but he doesn’t want anyone to have to go through what he did to survive.
“Believe it. This virus is nothing to mess around with,” Hirte said.
Hirte also experienced a double lung collapse during his hospital stay. He had such a severe case so early in the pandemic, it was too early to try new antiviral drugs, so he had to recover with time and care.