John's story

Photo of John Grembowitz at Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation.

At 94 years old, John Grembowitz is as independent as ever, even after his toe was amputated. John, a retiree and devoted Chicago Cubs and Chicago Bears fan, faced a challenge to his independence when he was admitted to Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation (KIR) – Saddle Brook following an amputation.

John's health journey began when an infected toenail escalated, despite attempts to treat it with medication.

"I went to the hospital to see what they can do about changing the medication… but the toe they were trying to save turned black,” he said. “That’s when they decided to amputate."

After surgery, it was evident that John would need to regain his strength and learn how to walk on his foot as it healed before going home. Choosing KIR – Saddle Brook was a practical decision for John, as it was the closest facility to his home, making it convenient for his brother to assist him.

Upon his transfer from Hackensack University Medical Center to KIR – Saddle Brook, John faced significant mobility challenges. “After surgery, I had a hard time dressing myself and needed help to stand and walk," he said. "I am now only allowed to put a little weight on my right heel when I stand and walk.”

John’s goal upon admission was to regain the ability to walk independently. The physician-led team at KIR-Saddle Brook focused his treatment plan so that he could achieve his goal.

Physical therapy activities helped to strengthen his body and increase his endurance and activity tolerance. Occupational therapy sessions helped John safely perform activities of daily living, from dressing to moving around a home environment. He found navigating stairs proved particularly beneficial.

"The PTs and OTs have been very professional,” John noted. “They are very strict when I am doing something wrong, so I am trying to absorb everything they teach me."

John learned to be successful he had to fully embrace the therapeutic regimen. He said, "Once I really started absorbing everything I was being taught, moving started getting easier, and that was the key for me." His "ah-ha!" moment arrived when he could use the walker without assistance and dress himself independently.

John's son, despite frequent business travels, made a point to visit him once a week to provide additional support during recovery.

Reflecting on his time at KIR, John commended the professionalism of the staff and acknowledged the hospital's national ranking. "It feels very professional here” he said. “They are ranked [third] in the nation, and it makes sense."

Through this challenging experience, John discovered newfound self-reliance. He imparts his wisdom to others, urging them to make full use of the services available during their rehabilitation.