Keith Hillerich

Resting at home one evening, Keith Hillerich noticed he “didn’t feel quite right.” Then, his wearable cardioverter defibrillator (WCD) alarmed. Keith experienced a life-threatening episode of sustained rapid heart rate. This episode caused Keith’s heart to stop.

Emergency personnel had to administer three rounds of CPR and more than 40 shocks. In the hospital, doctors placed Keith on a ventilator, and he received a transverse pacemaker. Keith then transferred to the University of Kentucky Medical Center for transplant evaluation in the setting of cardiogenic shock.

This might seem like a lot for one person, but Keith still faced more challenges. His hospital stay included further complications, including septic shock, an acute kidney injury, and respiratory failure. Keith required a tracheostomy and short-term hemodialysis. His skin suffered from the long-term hospitalization with issues in multiple pressure areas.

Once stable, Keith transferred to Kindred Hospital Louisville for his continued acute care needs. While there, he continued to wear a WCD. Cardiology recommended that Keith transfer to Jewish Hospital to have a dual-chamber implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) implanted before being discharged to an inpatient rehabilitation facility. Following the surgery, Keith’s condition improved significantly to the point he could have his trach and dialysis port removed.

Rejuvenated, Keith was ready for the next phase of his recovery and transferred to Southern Indiana Rehabilitation Hospital (SIRH) for inpatient rehabilitation. Keith could finally feel something he hadn’t since he was first hospitalized four months earlier: confidence he would once again return home.

The type and volume of challenges Keith faced required a lot of support, and Keith had plenty of it. His loving wife and family were constantly by his side encouraging him. The teams that treated Keith before he arrived at SIRH provided the clinical excellence that enabled him to recover. And at SIRH, Keith found a kind of second family who cared for him as he regained his strength, function, and independence. The Hillerichs wished to extend a special thanks to Sierra, Lynn, Bobby, Jessica, Pooja, Amber, Lewis, and Carlie.

Keith and his wife, Shannon, as he prepared to discharge home from SIRH

“Dana, the wound care nurse, was very attentive and took the time to teach me how to take care of my wounds,” Keith noted. “They took great care of me at SIRH. They made it possible for me to do things for myself again!”

“Everyone here is wonderful,” added his wife, Shannon.

“I never thought I would see the day he would walk out of the hospital.”

Excited to return home a new man, Keith had a few words of wisdom he wished to share with others facing a long or challenging recovery. “I want to encourage others to put aside their pride and stubbornness to work hard and get the help they need. Keep working. You have to put in the work to get what you want out of it!”

Keith’s discharge plans include continuing his healing through outpatient therapy with SIRH after a brief stay at his mother’s to regain some additional strength. We certainly look forward to having Keith and Shannon around our facility, working hard, and inspiring others to do the same!