Left to right: Carmen Meadows, occupational therapist assistant; Richard Donovan; and Gerhard Aguila, physical therapist assistant

“I arrived at Life Care Center of Ooltewah [, Tennessee,] after a two-month stay in the ICU,” said Richard Donovan. “I did not think I would make it.”


Time and effort would prove that prognosis wrong.


Donovan had suffered from acute respiratory failure due to pneumonia, and his tissues were not able to get enough oxygen. When he came to Life Care Center of Ooltewah on April 13, 2017, he was unable to do anything for himself. He couldn’t take care of his basic daily needs like getting out of bed, getting dressed or walking. He couldn’t wheel himself in a wheelchair or balance when standing. Nor was he able to swallow; he had to be fed through a feeding tube.


“I started with therapy and made the decision to get better,” Donovan shared. “My therapists made me feel comfortable and [gradually] intensified my treatment. They really worked well with me and listened to me and taught me how to listen to my body.”


Donovan progressed with speech therapy quickly as the therapists helped him regain his swallowing function besides his speaking ability. Within days he was able to verbalize his needs and wants, and he was eventually able to get off the feeding tube and eat normally again.


Physical and occupational therapists worked with Donovan to increase his strength, range of motion and mobility. And the nursing staff coordinated with the therapists to schedule his pain medication before his sessions so he could participate fully in his rehab exercises and activities.


“We reinforced with him that practice makes perfect,” said Jhei Adigun, director of rehab. “Just a couple weeks into his rehab, he was able to walk in the gym with a walker. Each day, he would make up his mind, and on most days he would surpass his own set goal. We looked forward to telling his wife how much improvement he had made that day.”


“The doctors and nurses, along with the therapists, all worked as a team and encouraged me to speed up my recovery,” said Donovan. “I gained strength and stamina and will continue to make progress through their outpatient program.”


Donovan returned home on June 16.