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Fit for a Bishop

“I couldn’t manipulate the buttons on my shirt,” Bishop Herzog says. “I didn’t think too much about it, but I noticed it. When it happened again, I was concerned.” After going to the emergency room at CHRISTUS St. Frances Cabrini Hospital, Bishop Herzog was diagnosed with an ischemic stroke. Thanks to the stroke telemedicine program at CHRISTUS Cabrini, the bishop was treated quickly.

The Long Road Home

As with many stroke patients, the blockage of blood flow to the bishop’s brain left lingering problems. Bishop Herzog was moved to the Cabrini Center for Physical Rehabilitation for intensive inpatient treatment.

“When the bishop came to us, he was unable to function on his own at all,” says Stacey Belgard, PT, manager of physical therapy services at CHRISTUS Cabrini. “Our inpatient care is an aggressive care setting tailored to the specific needs of patients. We pulled together physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech/language therapy for him.”

“All I wanted was to get back to doing the normal things of my daily life,” Bishop Herzog says. “My therapists were all superb. When they finished with me, I had met or exceeded all the challenges outlined in their plan.”

Back to Work

After several weeks of inpatient therapy, Bishop Herzog transitioned to outpatient therapy and prepared for a return to work and home. “Going into someone’s home or work setting is part of physical and occupational therapy,” Stacey says. “When the bishop moved to outpatient therapy, we took him to his cathedral to see exactly what his needs were. We had him go through the processional into the church so we could count his steps. The pastoral staff, or crosier, was of particular interest to me.” During Mass, Bishop Herzog can only hold the crosier in the left hand, the side most affected by his stroke. “We realized the crosier was top-heavy, so we weighted several dowel rods that were similar to the pastoral staff to work with during therapy,” Stacey says. “We also evaluated how heavy the chalice and host were during Holy Communion.”

Another unique aspect of the Bishop’s job was the amount of air travel required. Stacey and his therapy team set up chairs and recliners that mimicked what it was like to board an airplane, weighted bags to practice loading the overhead container and set up a treadmill to simulate getting luggage from baggage claim.

Today, Bishop Herzog continues his good work with the Catholic Church — in large part thanks to his recovery at the Cabrini Center. “They were so creative in their approach,” Bishop Herzog says. “The staff couldn’t have been more attentive with my care. I’m so grateful for their work.”