When Cleveland Mayor Kevin Brooks exited his car on June 30 to enter Tennova-Cleveland, his wife Kim, had these parting words: "Come home to me."
The mayor fulfilled his wife's plea and is now recovering at home after being released Friday evening from Tennova-Cleveland. He had spent 11 harrowing days undergoing treatment for double pneumonia and COVID-19.
Brooks told the Cleveland Daily Banner on Saturday that he wanted to thank Tennova's medical staff for their expert care.
"I'm so grateful that great team of doctors got me well enough to come home and finish my recovery and recuperation here at the house," he said. "I have much to be grateful for."
He also thanked everyone for praying for him and his family.
"The outpouring of prayers and support are what got us through," he said. "It absolutely keeps you going at your lowest point."
Brooks said he was able to be released from the hospital after his doctors determined he could breathe on his own without the aid of an oxygen mask.
Although he still felt "winded" and "tired," Brooks said he was grateful to be at home, where his wife could care for him. He said his recovery time could last up to six weeks.
While at the hospital, Brooks said he received five doses of Remdesivir, an anti-viral trial drug, in addition to plasma from a previous COVID-19 survivor.
In addition, he said he received a combination of strong steroids and Vitamin C.
"The team of doctors did a wonderful job of coordinating my medication regimen and layering it upon each other so that they built a chain of healing reaction," Brooks said. "They got me well enough to where I could return home and Kim could take very very good care of me."
It was an emotional moment as the mayor emerged from the hospital lobby, where he was greeted by his wife and his son, Zach Brooks, as well as dozens of mask-clad well-wishers who applauded as the mayor and his wife strolled passed arm-in-arm.
The mayor, who along with his wife, was wearing a mask, did not speak, but paused to recognize friends and pump his fist into the air.
Brooks, who often refers to himself as the city’s ambassador, was dressed in a T-shirt emblazoned with “I Believe in Cleveland,” as well as jeans and slip-on shoes. Hospital-identification brackets were still wrapped around his left wrist.
Response on social media to the news of his release was instantaneous.
“What great news!” wrote one commenter on the Cleveland Daily Banner’s Facebook page. “No place like home,” another chimed in. “What wonderful news and an answer to prayers,” another posted.
It was the end of an 11-day hospitalization, where Brooks underwent treatment in Tennova’s intensive care unit.
Brooks was admitted to the hospital for double pneumonia in both lungs, but twice tested negative for COVID-19. However, he later tested positive for the virus.
Although he is grateful to be on the road to recovery, Brooks told the Banner his thoughts are with those who have lost loved ones to the virus.
"My heart is heavy, because there are people who are not surviving," he said.
He encouraged everyone to remain vigilant in mitigating the spread of COVID-19. In addition, Brooks also pleaded for COVID-19 survivors to donate their plasma to help others recover.
"There are people that are not wearing masks," Brooks said. "And there are people that don't understand the importance of donating their plasma. There were days where we were waiting on donated plasma from COVID survivors and parceling it out as to who were the sickest.
"If God has allowed you to survive this virus, I ask you to join me in donating COVID survivor plasma to people who desperately need it today," the second-year mayor stressed.
Brooks said an unseen tragedy of COVID-19 is isolation.
"Other than the physical difficulty, the psychological difficulty of isolation of COVID is the second hardest battle," he said. "And for my family to be isolated from me and for my family to not be able to touch me and be with me was difficult. My only link to the outside world were my doctors and nurses and my telephone."
As he recovers, Brooks said he will remain in constant contact with others going through the same experience.
"My heart breaks because there are families right now who are suffering, and I'm trying to send them encouragement, because they can't be with their loved ones, and it is a very terrible outlier of this virus," he said.