First COVID-19 Patient Returns to Health First’s Cape Canaveral Hospital, Greeted with Grateful Tears, Applause

By  //  May 31, 2021

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Mark Twentyman spent weeks on a ventilator, some of those in a medically induced coma

A LITTLE MORE THAN ONE YEAR after his discharge, Mark Twentyman returned to Health First’s Cape Canaveral Hospital to thank the team that saved his life. “You remember me, but I don’t remember you. I’m sorry about my bedside manner,” the 69-year-old told the doctors, nurses and staff who greeted him with applause. (Health First image)

After a harrowing stay and a “miracle” rebound from the deadly disease, Cocoa man “at a loss how to appropriately thank” his lifesaving care team. “Like this,” they say.

BREVARD COUNTY • CAPE CANAVERAL, FLORIDA – He spent weeks on a ventilator, some of those in a medically induced coma. His treatment was intense, his status touch-and-go. But a little more than one year after his discharge, Mark Twentyman returned to Health First’s Cape Canaveral Hospital to thank the team that saved his life.

“You remember me, but I don’t remember you. I’m sorry about my bedside manner,” the 69-year-old told the doctors, nurses and staff who greeted him with applause.

“On behalf of Health First’s Cape Canaveral Hospital, welcome back — in a much better situation this time,” said Jeffrey Wright, a Health First Vice President and Cape Canaveral Hospital Administrator.

A real estate professional in Chatham, NY, Mark calls Cocoa, Florida his winter home.  After contracting the virus during a Colorado ski trip, he was admitted to Cape Canaveral Hospital through the Emergency Department on March 29, 2020 and was quickly placed on a ventilator.

HEALTH FIRST VICE PRESIDENT of Medical Affairs Dr. Victor Vargas and Cape Canaveral Hospital ICU Nurse Manager Angelic Dixon look on as Mark Twentyman makes his return.(Health First image)

Recently, Mark was met in the hospital conference room by ICU nurses who served as his frontline care team. They were joined by others from the Emergency Department, staff from the pharmacy, lab and other departments in the hospital.

“I’m at a loss for how to appropriately thank a person for having saved your life,” Mark said. “How do you do that?”

“Right like this,” a nurse shouted from the back of the hall.

“You look amazing, and it’s amazing you’ve come back and let us know,” said RN Bobbie Thomas. “That is a positive influence for us.”

“To see him walk through the door gives us a lot of hope that people can recover. I think the only way that was possible is all the associates in the ICU were working together as a team. Remember, we’d never cared for these patients before. How do we do that, and do that safely? It’s pretty amazing,” said ICU Nurse Manager Angelic Dixon.

MARK TWENTYMAN, left, and Health First’s Cape Canaveral Hospital APRN Mike Gavigan.

Mark said his daughter-in-law is an infectious disease expert at the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta. He took the opportunity to encourage everyone to get an available coronavirus vaccine and avoid the close call he experienced.

That’s the takeaway here, said Mike Gavigan, an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) who worked closely on Mark’s case.

“We saw 80-90% mortality in the people who become so critically ill they required mechanical ventilation like Mr. Twentyman, and now we have vaccines, very good vaccines, that almost completely mitigates the risk of getting hospitalized. There’s no good reason not to get it.”

Mark said that he’ll head back to New York soon, but before leaving the hall where the meet-and-greet took place, Charge Nurse Jennifer Touris shared a short iPhone video she’s kept of the care team applauding Mark’s discharge late last spring — his first big round of applause, but not his last.

“On behalf of Health First’s Cape Canaveral Hospital, welcome back — in a much better situation this time,” said Jeffrey Wright, a Health First Vice President and Cape Canaveral Hospital Administrator.

Health First Vice President of Medical Affairs Dr. Victor Vargas said this moment validates the work the team and the wider hospital community put into COVID-19 patients for more than a year now.

“To see them recover during a time like this just validates all the hard work we put in,” he said.

“I think it truly gets our teams back to why they went into healthcare,” said Wright. “I think they all chose healthcare for the reasons we’re talking about today. And Mark’s is a prime example — magnified.

“We’re just super appreciative he would come back and share that with the teams because it’s a gift. It really is a gift to have people come back.”

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