May 25, 2019 9:59:30 PM
The head of Columbus Police Department's Criminal Investigation Division is away on medical leave after suffering from severe health issues.
Capt. Stacey Deans, who has more than 25 years of law enforcement experience and was hired to lead CID in May 2018, has not been at work since early May, CPD Chief Fred Shelton confirmed to The Dispatch Friday. Deans' wife, Yolanda Deans, said her husband is at North Mississippi Medical Center in Tupelo with a severe spinal chord compression which has mostly paralyzed him on the left side.
Yolanda Deans said her husband was answering a call on May 4 when he felt extreme weakness in his left arm and had a colleague call an ambulance, thinking he was having a stroke. After being treated at the emergency room at Baptist Memorial Hospital-Golden Triangle for a couple of days, he was taken to NMMC on May 6 for surgery.
"By the time he left Golden Triangle, he was not moving on either side," she said.
After Deans' surgery, he regained most movement on his right side but not his left, Yolanda said. Later that week, respiratory issues put him in the hospital's intensive care unit for more than a week. Now, Yolanda said, her husband is in a long-term rehabilitation center for physical therapy. She said he is also undergoing radiation treatments, which doctors hope will strengthen the bones in his neck and shrink swelling around his nerves.
She said, on Friday, Capt. Deans moved the fingers on his left hand for the first time since May 4.
"He is doing much better now," she said. "He can do a lot with his right side. He is feeding himself and all that. He is not sitting up by himself."
She added he tested negative for tumors in his bones but that the bones in the part of his spine that is affected are so soft that "it's a miracle he was even walking to begin with."
A GoFundMe account to help with Deans' recovery was set up 10 days ago and as of Saturday afternoon had raised $725 of the $100,000 goal. Yolanda said her health insurance will only cover 30 days of Deans' in-house therapy, which he just started last week. The money they hope to raise will be used for any further therapy he needs, as well as a motorized and regular wheelchair and any accommodations their house needs during his recovery.
Shelton said in Deans' absence, Cpl. Eric Lewis is leading CID. Lewis was interim CID head before Deans was hired last year.
Shelton added he doesn't know when Deans will return to work, but specified he has no plans to hire a permanent replacement for Deans, who is taking family medical leave time. In addition to a vacation day and sick leave every month, CPD officers can take up to 12 weeks of family medical leave per year, Shelton said.
"(Other officers) can donate (their) leave time, so we're doing that," he added. "We're helping out too."
Patrol Officer Rhonda Sanders said that half the proceeds from this year's police ball fundraiser, the Glitz and Glam Ball on June 21 at the Trotter Convention Center downtown, will be given to Deans and his family. She added CPD will hold another fundraiser for Deans in July.
Deans says in the GoFundMe post that he hopes to receive long-term physical therapy and eventually go back to work, but that his doctor says it may take up to two years to get back to the point of holding a job.
"The medical bills will be astronomical," Deans says in the post. "I'm praying that we can get the help we need until I can finish my long-term therapy."
Yolanda said she doesn't know when her husband will leave the hospital but he is keeping his spirits up while he's there.
"He'd ready to get it done and get home," she said. "His attitude here is, 'What do I need to do?' He's a fighter. All the nurses like him and want to keep him. ... He has a great attitude."
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