Bert Krueger

Before his hospitalization, Bert Kreuger lived an everyday life in New Town, ND. He and his wife enjoyed spending time with family, going to the rodeo, and simply keeping busy.

Bert’s incredible journey began with admission to the ICU at Sanford Hospital, where he was diagnosed with respiratory failure and persistent neuromuscular weakness. Tests provided more insight into the cause of Bert’s respiratory failure, revealing spinal stenosis at C3-C6. Bert was placed on a ventilator and underwent surgery on his spine.

Unfortunately, Bert experienced complications following surgery. First, he developed pneumonia in both lungs due to staph aureus and pseudomonas species. Bert then had both a PEG tube (for nutritional support) and a tracheostomy (for the ventilator) placed. Ten days later, Ber had an episode of A-fib with sinus pause, which required the placement of a pacemaker.

Finally, Bert stabilized enough to transfer to Vibra Hospital of the Central Dakotas in Mandan, ND. Vibra, a critical care hospital, offered Bert the high level of medical care he required for an extended period of time. At Vibra, he would receive IV antibiotics, work toward weaning off the ventilator, and begin receiving therapy to regain his function and independence.

However, despite the best efforts of his medical professionals, Bert wasn’t improving. Nevertheless, the team at Vibra wouldn’t give up on Bert and worked hard to get a second opinion. Despite being denied by Mayo Clinic and the University of Minnesota, the team contacted University Hospitals  Cleveland Medical Center. Thankfully, they were willing to assess Bert. He was airlifted to the hospital, where he had a diaphragmatic stimulator placed, as Bert’s diaphragm had become paralyzed.

Following the procedure, Bert returned to Vibra, though he was hardly out of the woods. The stimulator box needed weekly changing, and Bert still required ventilator weaning and intensive therapy to regain his life prior to illness.

Bert arrived very weak (he hadn’t ambulated in over a month), and couldn’t eat, perform self-care tasks, sit on the edge of his bed, or even stand. But Bert was also very determined and had great support from his family and friends, who encouraged him. Steadily, and through many struggles, triumphs, and celebrations of baby steps, Bert made significant progress.

Through his therapy sessions, Bert transitioned from using an EZ-stand to eventually ambulating the hallways. Each day, Bert worked with physical therapy and occupational therapy to achieve his mobility and self-care goals. He also worked with speech therapy to improve his swallowing and ability to eat.

Now, Bert can complete his activities of daily living with minimal assistance, eat a soft diet, and ambulate over 400 feet with the front-wheeled walker. Thanks to respiratory therapy and the diaphragmatic stimulator, Bert requires only minimal oxygen with activity and no oxygen support when at rest. His self-confidence has improved, and Bert demonstrated great resiliency.

Bert has repeatedly thanked the Vibra staff for “helping me get my life back.”

Bert discharged to Sanford Rehabilitation Hospital in Fargo to continue working on transfers and activities of daily living in order to safely and independently return home.