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Dishman beats COVID
Dishman released3.jpg
After 74 days of hospitalization, Duane Dishman was released from River Park on Thursday. He encourages everyone to get vaccinated. - photo by Lisa Hobbs

From ventilator to victory, a Warren County man shares his journey back from the brink. 

“I shouldn’t be here,” said Duane Dishman, who was released from Ascension Saint Thomas River Park Hospital on Thursday. “I know that. It’s been a journey that I wouldn’t wish on anyone else. I’ve been in six hospitals for 74 days and was on a ventilator for 14 and a half of those days.”

Dishman, an instructor of Warren County High School’s machine tool technology course offered by Tennessee College of Applied Technology, was diagnosed with COVID-19 in mid-August. He was released Thursday at 1 p.m. 

“I started out at River Park with a temperature of 106,” said Dishman. “They transferred me to Smithville to its COVID unit because they had a bed for me. River Park didn’t have one. From there, I went to an ICU in Manchester. Then, I went back to River Park. I had such bad bed sores they shipped me to Saint Thomas West. I was there 19 days. They shipped me back to River Park for rehabilitation.” 

The mortality rate of ventilated patients is high.

“They told me I was their first patient to be placed on a ventilator to survive,” said Dishman. “That was in the Manchester hospital. They didn’t expect me to survive, but no one gave up on me. Nurses and doctors, all the prayers and prayer vigils. I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for the care and prayers I received. People didn’t give up on me, and I’m thankful for it.”

Dishman was released from Ascension Saint Thomas River Park and ushered home by a procession that included McMinnville Police Department, Warren County Sheriff’s Department, McMinnville Fire Department, Campaign-Rock Island Volunteer Fire Department, Donald Hillis’ firetruck, two Warren County constables, Warren County EMS, and all the students from machine tool technology course at TCAT.

“That was overwhelming,” said Dishman. “I knew people cared, but I didn’t know they care that much. They escorted me all the way home. I’m still trying to process everything. My wife is wonderful. She was there by my side through this entire journey and still managed to find time to decorate the house for Christmas and put up our tree.”

Dishman joins COVID-19 survivors who advocate for the vaccine. 

“I was not against the vaccine. There wasn’t enough information out there so I decided to wait. Look what it got me. I recommend the vaccine. I know a lot of people who got vaccinated, people who weren’t going to be vaccinated, because of what I went through. Maybe my journey saved someone’s life. I hope so. If I could go back, I would not have hesitated.” 

Dishman lost 50 pounds during his 74-day struggle to survive COVID.