Kevin Banner

Kevin McCandles (front left) gifted this banner to the healthcare workers at Methodist LeBonheur hospital in Olive Branch after receiving treatment for COVID-19. 

Nesbit resident Kevin McCandles is one of those in DeSoto County that will be celebrating Thanksgiving because of local health care professionals. 

The 63-year-old retired federal express pilot was hospitalized at the Methodist LeBonheur hospital in Olive Branch with COVID-19 in late October. McCandles has diabetes alongside kidney and heart issues — the very definition of a high risk patient. 

“Odds are, I should be dead. And that's just reality. I'm one of those people with everything against me,” McCandles said. 

Andrea McGee, one of McCandles’ nurses, said he started off on a downward spiral in the hospital. 

“I was ready to pack it up,” McCandles said. 

Not long into his stay, three nurses moved him to the ICU but worked diligently to improve his oxygen levels and were able to prevent him from being put on a ventilator. 

“That's people that are dedicated, that you cannot put a price on,” McCandles said. 

During one of McCandles rougher days, when he was “having a meltdown,” McGee gave him a big hug in his hospital bed. It was moments like these to which Kevin credits his recovery. 

“You're also mentally fighting and she saw that. She knew how important it was. She stopped what she was doing and came to my rescue,” McCandles said. 

McCandles was discharged on Friday, Nov. 13 and gifted the medical team with a poster carrying a message of thanks. The poster now hangs outside the main staff entrance at the hospital.

“We spend countless hours on the clock and off the clock and worried about or invested into our patients. And so it does feel great to have the recognition for everything that we do,” McGee said. 

Though back home, McCandles is still dealing with the lasting side effects of COVID-19. “You know, it kicks your tail,” he said. He was able to walk 257 steps yesterday. It might not sound like much, but for him it was huge. More than anything, he’s just happy to be here. 

“The one thing I've learned, if there's ever a time to be thankful, it’s this year. Give (your family) a hug like there is no other hug, where you lift them off the ground. You love them and appreciate them because they are truly gifts of God.”

“Odds are, I should be dead. And that's just reality... I was ready to pack it up,” McCandles said.

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