A retired New York City firefighter and Vietnam veteran was released from hospitalization this weekend after a month of battling the coronavirus.
Michael Bolnik hugged his family as he made his way out of the VA hospital in Albany. It was the first time he’s seen his family in more than a month.
“I feel like I’ve been blessed,” said Bolnik.
He was on a ventilator for 17 days and in the hospital for 27 days. Bolnik says the symptoms brought him to his knees.
“They basically hit me like a brick,” said Bolnik. “I would say ‘this is the end.’ Then my sons would say, ‘Dad, we’re going to beat this together, and we’re going to get through this.’ That was the only thing that would keep me going.”
Bolnik's family says he’s a fighter. The 72-year-old is a retired lieutenant with the New York City fire department. He responded to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the city. He also served in the Army in Vietnam. He said, though, his battle with the coronavirus was like no other.
“I thought Vietnam was tough, but this was a tough act. And I couldn’t have done it without everyone in the building and the friends and the support and the prayers,” added the veteran.
“It’s unbelievable he’s leaving here. It’s the best feeling in the world,” mentioned his son.
Saturday, hospital workers and his loved ones lined the hallways of the VA hospital. His neighbors and friends also made the trip to celebrate this moment. Bolnik says the support of those in the hospital and the kindness of friends and family helped him through his fight.
“It’s a miracle, and we’re just super thrilled,” said Bernard Hunt.
“I talked to him the other day, and he still has his sense of humor. He’s Michael and he’s back. Amen!’ added Donald Lewandoski.
Bolnik’s next step is heading to a rehab facility closer to his home in Harrison. Bolnik says he’s looking forward to seeing his grandchildren the most.