Dale Hester and his wife, Kim, share a great love for the outdoors, so it isn't unusual to find them outside tending to their garden or horseback riding with friends. Dale remembers Sunday, Sept. 14, 2014, as a day that began like any other day. He and Kim saddled up their horses and headed out, with no idea that this particular day and ride would change their lives forever.
Dale and his horse were climbing an embankment, when all of the sudden, the horse became frightened and reared up, falling backward on top of him. Dale, who was severely injured by the incident, was airlifted to a central Kentucky hospital to receive immediate medical attention. With nine broken ribs, multiple spinal fractures and lungs punctured in several places, Dale's prognosis was grim. He remained hospitalized for several months, undergoing numerous surgeries and battling life-threatening infections and pneumonia. Kim feared for her husband's life, and was even told on multiple occasions that Dale wasn't going to make it; but she remained strong.
In December, Dale was transferred to a long-term acute care hospital where he stayed for about a month until he was medically stable and deemed ready for transfer to an intensive rehabilitation hospital. That's when the Hesters found St. Claire Regional's Inpatient Rehabilitation Unit. Kim says she chose St. Claire Regional not only because it was close to home, but because she wanted Dale to have an intensive therapy regimen, including physical, occupational and speech therapies. "The amount of therapy that they had proposed on a daily basis was ultimately the biggest factor," Kim said.
Dale arrived at St. Claire Regional nearly four months after his accident. He was unable to move his legs and had limited mobility of his arms, in addition to having a restricted ability to speak. On a daily basis, he received rigorous therapy sessions dedicated to improving his balance, strength and overall function. It was during his stay that Kim finally began to reclaim hope that Dale would once again be able to live a normal life. "Just within the first two weeks here, he made so much progress," she said. "There was such a big difference. It was truly amazing to see."
Just three months later, in March 2015, Dale had already made great strides and was discharged to his home, where he continues to receive care from St. Claire Regional Home Health. Today, Dale can be found walking around his home with little assistance, helping Kim cook, or out enjoying his garden. On a good day, you might even find him out riding a four-wheeler on his farm.
Dale says he owes much of his success to the staff at St. Claire Regional. "They're the ones who got me back on track and nursed me through, when I didn't think I could do it and was just a weak little thing in bed," he said. "They brought me back; they made me whole again."
"I left a part of my heart (at St. Claire Regional)," he added. "You all have truly touched me."