A Patient’s Path to Recovery

Jim Banke: A Kindred Hospital success story

Jim Banke, veteran aerospace writer and host of WMMB-AM’s “Space Talk” radio show, was admitted to Melbourne’s Kindred Hospital in June 2011 with respiratory failure and other serious problems after a 10-day stay for emergency care in a nearby hospital.

Banke, 50, and his wife, Dawn, have three grown children, and since 1987 have lived on the Space Coast, working most recently now as an independent consultant with clients that include NASA.

Immediately prior to his hospital stay, Banke suffered from breathing difficulties, sleep apnea, renal failure and other problems due to morbid obesity. Although motivated to lose weight, he could not exercise enough to halt his declining health.

“Despite some initial weight loss, the pounds suddenly started piling on and my body started failing. The next thing I know I am waking up in a hospital bed and couldn’t speak or breathe on my own,” explains Banke.

“Jim was very sick upon his arrival to Kindred Hospital. As a result of his obesity, he had hyperventilation syndrome, obstructive sleep apnea and persistent CO2 retention, all leading to his respiratory failure,” explains Loretta Beorlegui, nurse manager at the hospital. “We were also addressing electrolyte imbalances and resolving renal failure.

“The nursing care plan developed for Jim was essential in creating the atmosphere for healing and for health improvement to occur,” she continues. “From the very first day of admission, the nursing staff began to prepare Jim for a safe discharge and return to wellness. Nurses, along with other members of the interdisciplinary team, worked together to assist Jim in reaching his goals. Jim’s desire to get well and work hard to achieve the care plan goals was paramount in his recovery process.”


When admitted to Kindred, Banke was on full ventilator support, unable to talk or eat due to his tracheostomy, and severely weakened by confinement to bed. Immediately, the Kindred team – with specialists in nursing, wound care, respiratory, diet and physical therapy – developed a personalized plan of care.

Within three days, the respiratory team began weaning him off the ventilator, increasingly relying on the use of continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) treatment. Within six weeks, Banke was breathing with no ventilator support.

“One of the most memorable moments in my recovery was when speech therapist Kristin Dolan helped me talk again, and I called my wife at work so she could hear my voice for the first time in several weeks. There were a lot of tears of joy that day,” says Banke.

At the same time, the rehab team led by Kersten Kerton worked with Banke to restore his strength, endurance and flexibility, essentially teaching him to walk again and become increasingly independent in performing the daily activities most people take for granted.

Between rehab sessions, the nursing staff provided around-the-clock care, working to heal his wounds and patiently attend to all of his physical and emotional needs.


When Banke was discharged after a 79-day stay, his wounds were on the road to healing, he was able to move short distances with the help of a walker and he could take care of many of his personal hygiene needs alone.

Following another three weeks in intensive physical therapy at an area rehab hospital, Banke returned home and has since fully resumed his work schedule and popular radio show about the space program.

“Jim’s recovery was an amazing adventure in perseverance, dedication, courage and determination to achieve his goals. He was willing to put in the time and effort it takes to succeed, and succeed he did. We are all so proud of Jim and look forward to his visits for lunch every few months so that we can continue to encourage him and share in his accomplishments,” says Kerton.

“I’m stronger and more independent every day, and there are no words to describe how grateful I am to the folks at Kindred for making sure I was set on the path to recovery. They became more than my caregivers. They are my family,” says Banke.

Kindred Hospital in Melbourne is part of a network of long-term acute care hospitals throughout the nation dedicated to Hope, Healing, and Recovery.

Leave a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.