SALINA, Kan. (KAKE) - A Salina man has been in the hospital for more than a year. At first, it was because of COVID-19 complications, but then doctors found something wrong with his back. Steve Pinkle wants to share his journey with others.

"While I was in Pennsylvania, they had me induced into a coma. At one point they were trying to get my wife to agree to pull the plug on me. They thought I was that bad off,” said Pinkle, who has been in the hospital for a year.

His odyssey started when he was at work one-day last year in August. Neither his wife, Kim, nor his boss could get hold of him.

“They found me in the ditch behind the truck. (They were) Not sure how I got there. I was either going to the building or coming back and didn't make it,” said Pinkle.

From there he was diagnosed with COVID-19. Pinkle tells us he barely remembers the hospital ride. Other health complications made his recovery especially hard.

“I was a diabetic and I had COVID. Probably not in the best of physical condition anyways. Diabetes didn't help a thing,” Pinkle stated.

He may have started in the hospital with COVID. But that's not the only thing that kept him in the hospital for this long.

“My wound on my backside," lamented Pinkle. "It was a complication from COVID. Because when I was hooked up to all the machines and ventilators and stuff like that, they couldn't turn me or get me off of my back."

He started at a hospital in Pennsylvania in August of 2021, then was flown to a Wichita hospital in October. But then after being in the hospital for one year in August, he got a phone call from his job.

“I got a phone call from HR. She said unfortunately it’s been a year. They did carry me for a year, but all of a sudden, she says we have to make a separation from you. And so right then and there I was no job no insurance,” said Pinkle.

It wasn't the pay Steve was concerned about, because he tells KAKE News he was only paid a week's vacation. It was his health insurance. They've had support from a GoFundMe. He tells us it's helped, but it’s all gone.

“It's getting scary. We're barely keeping our house right now. That's not a for sure anyway,” said Pinkle.

One thing Steve doesn't want to happen is to go to a nursing home.

“When they first said that, in my mind, you picture a nursing home, its where you're old, need to get taken care of, that's where they send you to and most people don't ever get out. That was really in my head,” said Pinkle.

The State Insurance Commissioner called the couple, and Steve is expected to be put in a rehab center instead of a nursing home. Steve believes in himself.

“Learning how to walk again, and stand up, and all that. I'm doing pretty good, but i got a ways to go. And that's coming from a guy that use to throw and unload kitchen cabinets all day long. Now my big accomplishment is sitting up on the edge of the bed by myself,” said Pinkle.

As he remains optimistic.

“There's no way you can tell me that miracles don't happen. I shouldn't be here today and I am,” said Pinkle.


Steve wants to get better so he can see his grandson. Also, he hopes to get back to work.

His wife Kim has been by his side every step of the way. They hope he is in a rehab center soon.