One year later: COVID-19 patient visits health care providers

Published: Dec. 20, 2022 at 5:17 PM EST
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - The little things in life mean more to Justin Ditmore these days.

“There was six different times I either coded, had to have an emergency procedure, or they called and told my girlfriend to prepare my kids that I wasn’t going to make it through the day,” former COVID-19 patient Justin Ditmore said.

Dec. 20, 2021, Ditmore defied the odds and was released from Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital after a battle with COVID lasting more than 100 days.

“He’s a true miracle,” Physical Therapist Assistant Kelly Carr said. “He really is. He’s an inspiration. He’s why I do what I do.”

To celebrate the one-year anniversary of his release from the hospital, Ditmore walked back into to Roanoke Memorial, on his own power, to personally thank his many caretakers.

“I’m around, thank God, because of you guys,” he said. “Just thank you.”

“It makes me proud to be a nurse and do what I do and to be able to see him, and it makes me proud of him, because it’s not just us caring for him,” Nurse Practitioner Kim Bolling said. “It’s him working hard, and he worked really hard.”

Ditmore says he’s back to around 85 percent of how he was before his fight with COVID-19.

Now, he spends his days with more gratitude.

“I woke up this morning and I wasn’t laying in a bed, I wasn’t in a hospital gown, didn’t have 11 different tubes and drains sticking out of me, I wasn’t on 23 different medications,” he said. “I woke up this morning, had my coffee, took my vitamins, and here I am.”

“In acute care we don’t get to see a lot of this,” Carr said. “They leave us and they go on, so it’s awesome that he stays in touch with us because we don’t get to see it.”

Ditmore says he’s only here today because of the outpouring of love and support he received during his hospital stay.

“I was on church prayer lists from New York to Florida and I really do think the reason God let me off the hook was because he was tired of hearing from everybody,” he said.