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Shorty first patient to graduate from Ventilator and Pulmonary Rehabilitation at Mary Free Bed

Herb “Shorty” Monroe was seriously injured in a July car crash just a mile from where he works. He was taken by ambulance to Ascension Borgess Hospital in Kalamazoo, where doctors discovered Shorty had a spinal cord injury that required surgery, as well as spinal fractures, broken ribs and bruised lungs. He needed a ventilator to help him breathe.

After spending three weeks in Borgess’ Intensive Care Unit, Shorty was approved for acute inpatient rehabilitation and chose Mary Free Bed for the next step in his recovery. The hospital recently began offering Ventilator and Pulmonary Rehabilitation for patients with neuromuscular conditions who require mechanical ventilation.

Research shows the sooner vigorous rehabilitation begins, the better the outcome.

“A ventilator is not a limitation from participating in acute rehabilitation,” said Dr. Michael Wheaton, a board-certified physical medicine and rehabilitation physician who heads Mary Free Bed’s Intensive Medical Rehabilitation Program. “With this team approach, we can shorten that road, make that road easier.”

Ventilator and Pulmonary Rehabilitation allows Mary Free Bed to admit patients with acute respiratory conditions caused by serious injury or illness. Care plans are customized to meet each patient’s individual goals, needs and preferences in a specialized rehabilitation environment.

A board-certified pulmonologist and a board-certified rehabilitation physician lead a multidisciplinary team that helps patients regain physical and emotional strength, communication skills and endurance.

Shorty underwent aggressive respiratory treatments and pulmonary-strengthening protocols to improve his endurance. His respiratory therapists coordinated with physical, occupational and speech-language therapists to develop a plan that met Shorty’s goals and needs. He responded almost immediately.

Within two hours of being admitted on Aug. 17, Shorty could speak briefly. Within three hours, he was sitting upright in a chair.

“They had him up and moving the first day – I’m not joking,” said Amber Monroe, Shorty’s wife. “It’s been leaps and bounds for him.”

Shorty continued to work hard in therapy and five days later, he no longer needed mechanical ventilation. After nine days, his tracheotomy was removed. Three weeks later, Shorty became the first patient admitted with a ventilator to graduate from Mary Free Bed.

In this video chronicling Shorty’s rehabilitation journey, you’ll hear from Dr. Sarah Kenning, Shorty’s Ascension Borgess Hospital surgeon, as well as Dr. Wheaton and his Mary Free Bed team of caregivers:

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