Christian Health Care Center’s Short-term Rehab Unit Helps Patient Beat the Odds

“It’s a miracle that I am alive. When I think about all I’ve been through, I really shouldn’t be here,” Joe Rooney says. “I had a lot of angels at Christian Health Care Center’s (CHCC) short-term rehab unit helping me, along with the support of my entire family.”

Mr. Rooney’s journey from sickness to health is amazing and inspiring. Six years ago, the Hawthorne resident was diagnosed with lymphoma. He was declared cancer-free following six months of chemotherapy, but the disease returned 4 ½ years later. This time, a bone-marrow transplant was necessary; fortunately, Mr. Rooney could be his own stem-cell donor.

After another round of chemotherapy, a transplant of six million stem cells was performed at a local hospital. But five days later Mr. Rooney started a downward spiral.

“First, he developed a C. difficile infection and was transferred to intensive care, which is where we celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary,” his wife Carol explains. “Three days later his heart briefly stopped. The next day his lungs started to fail. The day after that he was going into kidney failure. He developed a MRSA infection and pneumonia. Basically, every organ was breaking down. He was placed in an induced coma to try to help his body fight these battles.”

The hospital staff suggested that Mrs. Rooney prepare the family for his possible passing. But medicine, man, and machine finally worked together, and Mr. Rooney began to heal following much prayer and positive thinking. Two months after he was taken out of the induced coma, he was ready for rehabilitation. The short-term rehab unit at Christian Health Care Center was their only choice.

“We knew the quality of care at the Center. My mother was a resident at The Longview Assisted Living Residence at the Center until her passing, and she loved living there and felt very much at home. And, our daughter-in-law Pam is Longview’s Administrator,” Mrs. Rooney says.

When Mr. Rooney arrived for rehab at The David F. Bolger Post-acute Care Unit at CHCC, he couldn’t sit up and could only slightly move his fingers and toes. His interdisciplinary team developed a treatment plan following the Center’s Person- and Family-Centered Care Model. At first, all physical and occupational therapy took place in his room because the staff did not want to put him in harm’s way of any possible infection. By Thanksgiving, which was a little over four weeks after he was admitted, Mr. Rooney could sit up. On Christmas, he took his first steps.

“That,” Mrs. Rooney says, “was the best gift.”

Today, Mr. Rooney is back to tending to his garden and, together with his wife, spoiling his seven grandchildren. They stop by CHCC’s short-term rehab unit every so often to visit the staff.

“It was a long haul, but our faith and our family – and the staff at Christian Health Care Center – got us through,” says Mrs. Rooney, who was an integral part of her husband’s treatment team, both in the hospital and at CHCC. “We love the staff. Everyone was so wonderful. I tell anyone who needs care to come to Christian Health Care Center.”

  • Text Resize:
  • Share: