93-year-old recovers from COVID-19, released from NCH North Naples

Tom Tegen served our nation honorably during World War II. He’s 93 years old and is now a survivor of the coronavirus. He was released from NCH North Naples Sunday afternoon with the “Rocky” theme playing, as he exited the hospital in victory.

That’s also when Tom hugged on of his three children for the first time in a month.

We have been following Tegen’s journey to recovery and sharing it with you. WINK News’ visit with Tegen in his hospital room last month was a brief encounter — to tell the story of someone battling COVID-19.

“You people showed up, and he had something to talk about,” son Carl Tegen said. “He was bragging about it. He said, ‘These TV people came in with all these big cameras.’ He was very, very excited about the whole thing.”

For Tom, it was a window into the outside world

“He got the impression that there’s a future beyond day after day after day in the hospital,” Carl said. “He’s been there for a month.”

For Tom’s children, it was a chance to actually see their dad was doing OK.

“My biggest fear was that he was going to die alone,” daughter Ann Hill said.

“And everybody we talked to, we’d say my dad’s in the hospital with COVID, he has pneumonia,” Carl said. “They would just look down on the ground, ‘You know, it’s tough.’”

So the three siblings devised a plan to keep their dad positive. Will got Tom a phone to communicate.

“He did keep calm whenever we were able to talk because I was in contact with him from 9 to 3 every day,” Will Tegen said.

“It takes three of us to deal with them,” Ann said.

Ann says she became his shopping buddy, helping him make purchases on Amazon for next-day shipping.

And Carl was his dad’s perpetual cheerleader.

“We’re bragging about him,” Carl said. “All of us. Ninety-three, and you beat COVID? Come one.”

It was a victory celebration as Tom left NCH North Naples and a welcome-home celebration with a round of applause when he made it back to the North Naples assisted living facility he calls home.

Tom was at NCH North Naples for exactly one month and three days, so you can bet he’s glad to be home.

“It’s wonderful,” Tom said. “You have no idea.”

Correction: In prior versions, we said Tom Tegen was admitted to the hospital June 22 when it was actually June 30. The 93-year-old told us that was the date he got in the hospital, but his kids corrected him later on after we interviewed them; however, our original stories had already aired in broadcasts.

Reporter:Lauren Sweeney
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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