NJ Police Officer Returns to Cooper to Thank Health Care Workers Following Battle with COVID-19

Lt. Antonio Ellis, a Manchester Township police officer, was among the first severe COVID-19 cases in New Jersey in mid-March 2020. After more than a year of recovery, Officer Ellis returned to Cooper University Health Care triumphantly on Monday, November 22 to thank the team of caregivers who saved his life.

L-R: Dr. Jason Bartock, Dr. Adam Green, Dr. Ramya Lotano, Officer Antonio Ellis and Dr. Nitin Puri

More than 100 Cooper team members including the critical care doctors, nurses, and team members who cared for him during his long battle with COVID-19 greeted Officer Ellis and his wife, Carla, with celebratory cheers.

“It is so gratifying to the Critical Care team to see Officer Ellis healthy and well. His story is truly miraculous and an inspiration to all of us,” said Jason Bartock, MD, who welcomed Ellis and his wife back to Cooper on behalf of the entire Critical Care Team.

Officer Ellis came to Cooper for advanced care after he failed on ventilators at an Ocean County hospital.

Doctors were desperate to save the life of the young, relatively healthy husband and father of two and arranged for his transport to Cooper. Officer Ellis was one of the first COVID-10 patients at Cooper to received ECMO treatment. ECMO, or extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, is a life-support system that has been used to save the lives of some critically ill COVID-19 patients who otherwise may have died.

In total, Mr. Ellis was unconscious for 30 days, spent 45 days in intensive care units, endured three cardiac arrests, and lost 40 pounds. Ellis spent six weeks in in-patient physical therapy learning basic life skills, from speech to walking, writing and brushing his teeth. He attended five more weeks of intensive outpatient physical and occupational therapy.  In early January 2021, Ellis was back to work on light duty and returned to full duty in March 2021, a full year after he fell ill.

Cooper staff ready to greet Officer Ellis


L-R: Dr. Jason Bartock, Officer Antonio Ellis, and Dr. Nitin Puri