On Monday, we showed you how inspirational COVID-19 success stories can get for those on the front lines as they help people beat this deadly virus. However, the fight doesn't always end after someone is declared COVID free.

What You Need To Know

  • Jack and Carol Fitzgerald beat COVID-19, but they were so tired and drained, they needed nearly two weeks worth of physical therapy before they could head home.

  • Patients like Jack and Carol become more than just patients to medical staff. They make true connections and the goal of getting them healthy becomes personal.

  • Doctors discovered Jack and Carol's love of not only each other, but music and dancing, and that was a big part of the physical therapy sessions that got them strong enough to go home.

Sometimes the virus takes so much out of someone, a new group of medical professionals are called on to continue care. It makes the road to recovery even more personal.

"Occupational therapy is essential for this coronavirus, because you aren't going to recover just in one day. It's not a hip fracture. It's not your normal orthopedic rehab," said Ashley Sanford, a Samaritan Medical Center occupational therapist.

After nearly three brutal weeks in intensive care, Jack and Carol Fitzgerald, a Watertown couple in their 80s battling COVID-19, finally saw each other again. Both were just declared virus-free, but they were also drained physically and mentally. Before they could go home, there was just one more step, a rehab process.

"The goal was to provide them with the atmosphere to build up their endurance, because they've been bed-ridden for about three weeks," said Samaritan Medical Center Acute Rehab Unit Medical Director Dr. Ariana Brooks-James.

It is however, easier said than done.

"In rehab, you have to do three hours of physical therapy a day with each of our patients, which can be a lot for anyone, let alone somebody who has been in the hospital for two-plus weeks," said Samaritan Medical Center Doctor of Physical Therapy Abigail Monroe.

That's where trust and familiarity comes in. At first, Carol Fitzgerald wanted nothing to do with it. However, these medical therapists spend every day with their patients, often rearranging work schedules to be there for them. It becomes more than just a doctor-patient relationship. It’s impossible to not become personal.

Sometimes, the doctors say just talking, the smallest of gestures, makes the biggest impact.

"Carol asked about her grandchildren. I made phone calls to family for them to try to keep in touch. We just do our best to try and be a support system for them," Monroe said.

Further conversations about life led to finding a motivation, a chat about how the couple met, their love of dancing. It was yet another personal connection that triggered a big part of how the Fitzgeralds would get back on their feet.

"It should spread a positive message in our community that if they can beat that, then we should all be able to push through this tough time," Sanford said.

With the help of family keeping them active, the Fitzgeralds should be back to full strength later this summer.