On the 90th day, Josh Ward went home.
The Lee’s Summit police detective, diagnosed in April with a rare flesh-eating bacterial infection, on Monday left St. Luke’s Hospital, his home for the past three months.
He and his wife, Melissa, walked hand-in-hand through a column of about 40 uniformed members of the Lee’s Summit Police Department, all of whom applauded and woo-hooed at the sight of them.
“I just wanted to thank everyone at St. Luke’s — all the staff, the nurses, the doctors, the nursing assistants, everyone who helped me recover,” Ward said.
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“They truly work miracles here. When I heard about what happened to me, I really believe that they honestly saved my life, and I’m really thankful for that.”
Doctors in mid-April diagnosed Ward with necrotizing fasciitis, a sometimes-fatal infection.
Ward spent most of his days in the hospital — 77 of them — in its intensive care unit. He underwent 24 surgeries and began rehabilitation therapy while still in the ICU. He’s scheduled to continue to receive physical therapy as an outpatient.
Ward on Monday thanked his police department colleagues who, he said, “supported me, came and stayed with me through the rough times, and gave me somebody to talk to when I was just going crazy those early days.”
Officers made sure that when family members were not visiting Ward that a department member could be available on personal time to be with him, said police department spokesman Sgt. Chris Depue.
“If any need arose, we wanted to be there,” Depue said.
Lee’s Summit Police Chief Travis Forbes said that many of Ward’s colleagues wanted to be there Monday morning.
“We sent around an email telling everyone that Josh would probably appreciate seeing some uniforms,” Forbes said.
Many of Ward’s fellow officers, Forbes said, had struggled with Ward’s plight.
“It’s really difficult to deal with this, when you have an officer who’s down. We’re happy to see Josh back up today, and he’s going home.”
Ward did not take questions. It remains unclear when Ward, a nine-year department veteran, will return to the force, Forbes said.
“The chief thing is just to get Josh well,” Forbes said.
“He needs to continue to rehabilitate, and we want to see him continue to get better.”
Forbes also thanked the Lee’s Summit community for its support of Ward. Several community businesses organized fundraisers, and friends continue to make donations to help Ward and his wife, the parents of three children, meet medical expenses.
A “Josh Ward medical fund” at the online gofundme page on Wednesday listed that $37,661 had been donated.
Supporters wishing to donate should visit that site, Depue said.
To reach Brian Burnes, call 816-234-4120 or send email to email@example.com.