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Improving Lives One Patient at a Time

Improving Lives One Patient at a Time

I just want to be able to walk.

That’s the wish Randy Risner whispered when he arrived at St. Claire HealthCare’s (SCH) Inpatient Rehabilitation Unit. As he lay in his bed, he was so weak he could barely even move his fingers … much less walk.

“Mr. Risner came to us after a three-month hospitalization resulting from COVID,” said Debbie Neff, DPT, Director of Rehabilitation Services at SCH. “He was very debilitated. He had a lot to overcome when he came to us.”

Risner, a Morgan County native, had spent most of his previous hospitalization in intensive care on a ventilator. Being inactive for so long lead to nerve and muscle damage known as critical illness myopathy. As if that wasn’t enough, he also experienced a brain bleed that caused further debilitation.

“He was facing so many obstacles. It wasn’t just COVID, it wasn’t just a brain bleed, he had so many things that developed during his hospitalization,” said Neff. “I joked with Mr. Risner that if he hadn’t had bad luck, he wouldn’t have had any luck at all.”

Fortunately, the rehabilitation team at SCH matched Risner’s determination to walk again, step by step.

St. Claire’s comprehensive Inpatient Rehabilitation Unit (IRU), located on the fifth floor of St. Claire Regional Medical Center in Morehead, exists to serve patients needing an intensive combination of physical, occupational, and speech therapies, and that’s exactly what Risner needed. Our interdisciplinary team designed a custom rehabilitation program to help him regain his independence.

“They are like family,” said Norma Risner, Randy’s wife. “Randy really enjoyed the therapists, nurses … all the hospital staff, and he looked forward to therapy each day.”

But his therapy started slowly. After laying for so long, Randy’s body wasn’t used to having gravity pull blood down on his legs so he would experience dizziness and his blood pressure would drop. The team had to work slowly to help his body adjust and begin to regain basic mobility.

“We started with small activities like rolling in the bed and having him sit upright to regain his range of motion,” said Katie Bloom, SCH Occupational Therapist. “Mr. Risner was very motivated and did whatever we asked of him.”

As his strength and mobility improved, Risner’s team of therapists began working with him on more advanced self-care skills, transfers, balance, strength, and other activities that would make it easier for him when he returned home.

“It was really cool to see Mr. Risner advance to the sit-to-stand machine,” said Neff. “His goal the whole time he was with us was, ‘I just want to be able to walk.’ When he was on that machine, you could see him starting to realize his goal might be possible.”

Each day during his nearly three-month stay at SCH, Risner would proudly show the team a new skill he had mastered. Each improvement moved him closer and closer toward his goal.

“Mr. Risner had every obstacle when he came in … he had been through so much,” said Neff. “His progress was truly remarkable and was a trooper through it all.”

When he first arrived, Risner could barely move, could only speak in a whisper, and was eating with the assistance of a tube. The night before he was discharged from SCH, he enjoyed a steak dinner which he was able to feed himself, and the day he left, he was able to walk with just the assistance of a walker.

“I am glad that I picked this place,” Risner said before he left. His wife added, “I think that anyone who needs therapy should come to St. Claire. Randy improved 100% while he was there. It’s a really good hospital.”

SCH’s rehabilitation team provides truly amazing services that assist patients in recovering from debilitating illnesses and injuries so they can live the most independent life possible. To learn more about inpatient therapy, call 606.783.6651. Information regarding SCH’s full range of outpatient occupational, physical, and speech therapies for adults and children is available by calling 606.780.5516.