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Family calls Clay County COVID-19 patient’s release from hospital a ‘miracle’

Jeffrey Virbickis, 60, was on a ventilator in the ICU for more than a month

60-year-old recovers from COVID-19
60-year-old recovers from COVID-19

CLAY COUNTY, Fla. – A Clay County man was released from a hospital on Monday after spending more than a month in the intensive care unit for COVID-19.

Health care workers at St. Vincent’s Clay County Hospital waved goodbye as Jeffrey Virbickis, 60, left the hospital 44 days after being diagnosed with COVID-19.

“I think that I have actually witnessed a miracle,” said his wife, Vickie Virbickis.

Jeffrey Virbickis’ wife and daughters say they’ll never forget the day he was admitted on March 26.

“I was scared to death that I’d never get to talk to him again," Vickie Virbickis said.

“Within 24 hours, he was in the ICU and my mom was calling us, telling us that a palliative nurse had called her," said Jeffrey Virbickis’ stepdaughter, Kelsey Gruber. "(Jeffrey Virbickis’ daughter, Ashleigh Slonaker,) and I are both nurses, so when we heard palliative, we panicked a little.”

Jeffrey Virbickis suffers from a pre-existing lung condition and was on a ventilator in the ICU for more than a month. His family said he received donated plasma from recovered COVID-19 patients and had a breathing tube in his throat, but his chances for survival were low.

“You just sit by the phone, waiting for the next update, and you don’t know if it’s going to be positive or if it’s going to be the last update. It was very emotional," said Jeffrey Virbickis’ stepdaughter, Keather Wood.

“It was a roller coaster. Every time we went two steps forward, we’d go one step back," said Jeffrey Virbickis’ daughter, Ashleigh Slonaker.

The doubt started to change last week when Jeffrey Virbickis’ family said he slowly began to wake up.

“My watch rang and it showed up, “Daddy,” and I have never felt like that in my life. I went running for my phone, just getting to see him and have him actually see me was one of the best feelings I have ever had in my life," Slonaker said.

Jeffrey Virbickis’ family members said the power of prayer is what gave them hope that they would see their fun-loving die-hard Jaguars fan again.

“He pulled through every single time. He is a fighter. He’s had everybody that you can think of praying for him," Gruber said.

Jeffrey Virbickis’ family said he is still technically COVID-19 positive, but again, he is seeing major progress and is receiving care at Brooks Rehabilitation Center. They said they want to thank all of the doctors and nurses at St. Vincent’s who helped save his life and they hope Jeffrey Virbickis’ success fighting COVID-19 will bring hope to others.

About the Author:

Reports weeknights for The Ten O'Clock News and News4Jax at 11.