Del Ray Henderson, twice on a ventilator, recovered from COVID-19 at Aperion Forest Park's COVID-19 Recovery Unit. | Photo provided

On May 19 and 22, COVID-19 patients died at Aperion Forest Park, 8200 Roosevelt Rd. A 65-year-old black male died May 19. His underlying conditions included hypertension and chronic substance abuse, according to the medical examiner’s report. On May 22, a 74-year-old black male succumbed to COVID-19. Comorbidities included congestive heart failure, hypertension and atrial fibrillation.

Earlier in the pandemic, another black male died at Aperion on March 30 from COVID-19. He was Forest Park’s first resident to die from the illness.

Since early on in the COVID-19 pandemic, Aperion has been caring for COVID-19 patients in its COVID-19 Recovery Unit, which can hold up to 34 patients at a time. According to Heather Levine, who handles public relations for Aperion, “We are assisting local hospitals to ease their bed capacity for patients who no longer qualify for hospital stays but are not yet well enough to go home.”

As of May 26, the unit had cared for 41 patients from local hospitals, 22 who had already gone home or had decided to stay as residents, said Levine.

The unit has celebrated recoveries with photos and stories on the center’s Facebook page, They recently posted a video of Del Ray Henderson as he said goodbye to caregivers at the facility. Henderson contracted COVID-19 while attending the funeral of a relative in Mississippi, and since February had been hospitalized and on a ventilator two separate times at Hines VA Hospital in Maywood. He was told by his family that he would probably not make it off the ventilator. He improved, however, and was discharged from the hospital to Aperion’s COVID-19 Recovery Unit, where he gained strength and, ultimately, returned home.

Aperion’s Facebook page shows other individuals who have recovered from COVID-19, including a husband and wife team who beat COVID-19 together in the recovery unit.