Blue Ridge police chief's long road to recovery from COVID-19

A north Georgia police chief is back home after battling COVID-19 in the hospital for 94 days.

The city of Blue Ridge Police Chief Johnny Scearce spent most of his battle with COVID-19 at CHI Memorial Hospital in Chattanooga.

"He was as close to death as you can come," said Brenda Scearce, Jonny's wife.

Brenda said the prayers, great team of doctors, and glory of God is what brought her husband through COVID-19 which nearly took his life.

"A superinfection showed up and that's what landed us at Memorial with a collapsed lung. He had a couple holes in his lung," explained Scearce. "They didn't really give us much hope when we got there. I just begged them. He always said if he got in a situation like this, do whatever you can."

Chief Scearce is a fixture in the Blue Ridge community. He has held the role of police chief for 30 years. Brenda told FOX 5 her husband is active, healthy, and has no underlying conditions.

"When he got this sick, it was pretty shocking," said Scearce.

"I would be lying if I didn't say that most of the doctors and nurses had a lot of concerns about whether he was going to survive this hospitalization," said Dr. Jesse Tucker, Medical Director of Intensive Care at CHI Memorial Hospital.

Dr. Tucker was one of the doctors who treated Scearce at CHI Memorial. Tucker said Scearce's case was one of the most severe cases of COVID-19 they had ever seen. Scearce was put on a ventilator and ECMO which were the only things keeping him alive when he was first admitted

"Our concerns were severe enough that very quickly we were trying to refer him to a lung transplant center because most of us did not think his lung injury was survivable," explained Dr. Tucker.

But fortunately, Scearce's condition improved. After 94 days in the hospital, Scearce was released with an honor walk surrounded by nurses, doctors, and medical staff who helped during his stay.

Chief Scearce's wife, Brenda, said she does plan to get the COVID-19 vaccine when she's eligible. She hopes her husband's story is a reminder to everyone to continue to take the pandemic seriously.

People need to hang in there and just know we are so close," said Scearce. "Stay to yourself just a little bit longer. Give this a chance, and maybe nobody else will have to die."

Chief Scearce is continuing to recover in rehab. His family hopes he is able to come home in about two weeks.