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Family surprises Carmel nurse at hospital release after 4 weeks on ventilator

CARMEL, Ind. (WISH) — A Carmel nurse was released Tuesday from Ascension St. Vincent after more than 40 days in the hospital battling COVID-19.

Lesley Vogel, 60, underwent a tracheostomy and spent four weeks on a ventilator. 

Friends, relatives and hospital employees gathered outside the hospital for a surprise celebration as she was discharged to a rehabilitation center. 

Lesley‘s mouth was covered with a mask but her eyes crinkled into an unmistakable smile as her daughter stepped forward to hug her. It was their first embrace in weeks. 

Meredith Vogel described her mother’s recovery journey as a “rollercoaster.”

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The experience was “life changing” and underscored the importance of remaining hopeful during difficult times, she said. 

“I’m just so excited she’s leaving the hospital,” Meredith told News 8. “I think we should take it easy at first. But I definitely want to throw her a big party.”

The celebration outside Ascension St. Vincent was exuberant. Fellow nurses cheered and clapped as Lesley was wheeled out of the hospital on a gurney. Friends holding balloons screamed her name and jumped up and down when they glimpsed her approaching the doors.

“Thank you to so many people who have been praying for her,” said Lydia Stratman, Lesley’s sister. “[Doctors] didn’t know if she was going to make it at times.”

The ONE Call Center nurse will undergo inpatient physical therapy and speech therapy before returning home, her family said.

Even in the role of patient, Lesley’s compassion was evident on her way out of the hospital. She stopped to hug loved ones and thank health care workers before departing in an ambulance.

More than a dozen nurses stood on the sidewalk and applauded as the ambulance drove past a sign outside the hospital’s main entrance that read, “We Love Our Front Liners.”

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