Island Pond man sidelined by COVID welcomed home

Published: Dec. 1, 2022 at 5:52 PM EST
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ISLAND POND, Vt. (WCAX) - It was a homecoming, a town celebration, and a family reunion in Island Pond Thursday, just in time for the holidays.

On a blustery day in the Northeast Kingdom, sirens and lights cut through the snow squalls as Buba Carroll Humphrey was escorted home for the first time after being diagnosed with COVID last fall. Friends and family in the tight-knit community waved flags and cheered along the route.

“It feels great. It has been a dream,” Humphrey said. But to fully understand the dream, you have to go back in time. An hour earlier, Humphrey was discharged from the Bel-Aire Center in Newport where he underwent months of physical therapy. “Basically I had to learn everything over again.”

Back in April, he received a huge send-off from the VA Medical Center in White River Jct. where he spent half a year on a ventilator and feeding tube. The virus -- and lack of mobility -- took its toll on the 62-year-old. He couldn’t walk or eat without assistance and even had trouble speaking. “I still have some issues with my hand, I have to have surgery on my hand. So, the pain is constant, that is still there, but otherwise I’m feeling pretty good. I have to have oxygen of course,” the Army veteran said.

Three of Humphrey’s children welcomed him home Wednesday. They believe his hospitalization has been the longest in the country for a COVID patient who made it through the ordeal.

“We have been taking trips down to White River during his stay at Bel-Aire preparing for his departure to come home and those days are like, ‘Oh, dad is going back to Bel-Aire.’ But today is amazing,” said Jess Smith, Humphrey’s daughter.

“There were days of grim absolutely but we all stayed positive through this whole thing and my father has stayed strong through this all,” said Kyle Humphrey.

“For us to have him welcomed home with the support of this small community it’s just been phenomenal,” said Randy Humphrey.

Humphrey says life, now, has new meaning. “There is good in everything. You just got to find it and you got to lean on God to get you there,” Humphrey said.

Humphrey will continue with extensive daily physical therapy and regular trips to the VA as his road to recovery continues.