STUART, Fla. — One Martin County health care hero is opening up about his battle against COVID-19 as he returns to the frontlines to help others.
"The first couple of months were difficult because of how easy I wore out," said Daniel Rice, 37.
Rice, a nurse of three years at Cleveland Clinic Martin South Hospital, contracted coronavirus in April 2020.
"When I got to the ER, they had to help me out of the car," said Rice. "I couldn't even stand. My temp was 102.3 (degrees)."
Within just 24 hours, Rice was placed on a remote breathing machine and was transferred to the intensive care unit at Cleveland Clinic Martin North Hospital.
"A lot of people don't make it," said Rice. "I was the first prone patient."
Rice spent 11 days being intubated and eventually was released with his loved ones there by his side, cheering him on.
"Being able to go outside and see everyone rally for me, it was a happy moment," said Rice.
Months later, Rice returned to work on June 6.
He said his new insight as a former patient helps him take care of others battling the fight so many have lost.
"It's given me a much more broader understanding of what's going through the patient's mind when things like that happen," said Rice. "Because I went through that, too. I was that patient."