Home after almost 3 months fighting COVID-19

By Megan Banta, Lansing State Journal

LANSING – When doctors called Ernie Cabule’s wife and told her he wasn’t going to make it, he had other plans. 

“I got things to do,” Cabule said Friday as he left Sparrow hospital for the first time in nearly three months. “And dying isn’t one of them.”

Cabule, who’s in his late 60s, had been in the hospital since March 21 fighting and then recovering from COVID-19. 

He said it “wasn’t so bad” and the nurses and doctors made sure he never got depressed or upset about it. 

“I’ve been so excited,” he said, adding it’s “fantastic…to finally get out when they said I wouldn’t make it.”

‘He was a fighter’

Danielle Cabule describes her father as “quiet, but definitely a presence.”

He takes his grandson Maceo, whose name is Ernie’s middle name, fishing every summer, and the two do many other things together over summer breaks, she said. 

Cabule is a General Motors retiree. He’s also done sales at Macy’s and some substitute teaching since retiring. And he’s on the board of Turning Point of Lansing, an organization that provides mentors for  young Black men.

Dr. Harnoor Tokhie, an attending physician on the rehabilitation floor, said Cabule was ready to go home from almost the moment he got to Mary Free Bed. 

After having been on a ventilator twice, Cabule was on the rehab floor for about two weeks working on transferring and moving around, Tokhie said. 

He and his family were overwhelmed with the support from his fraternity brothers, neighbors and other friends. 

Friends, neighbors were ‘our rock’

At 10:30 a.m. Friday, about 30 minutes before Cabule was set to be released, his fraternity brothers from Alpha Phi Alpha started gathering in front of Sparrow Hospital. 

Wearing masks and spaced out for social distancing, they toted signs expressing love and support for their brother and friend. 

Cabule’s wife, Janice, said along with neighbors, hospital staff and other community members, those men and their loved ones had “been our rock.”

Outward signs of the community’s support continued as the family went home. 

Neighbors lined the drive home with signs welcoming Ernie Cabule home, and they gathered outside the couple’s home and cheered as he got out of the wheelchair to walk a short distance and sit on his porch. 

“Some people never ever know what it’s like to have people care,” Janice Cabule said, adding she’s glad the family had support from so many people.