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Months after critical COVID-19 hospitalization, Baton Rouge judge returns to bench

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BATON ROUGE - Inside Judge Richard 'Chip' Moore's ninth-floor suite in the 19th Judicial District Courthouse Monday, homemade signs reading 'Welcome Back!' and 'We've Missed you!!!!!!' covered the doors. The small gesture by staff members marked Moore's first day back at work since the summer.

"So many people I haven't seen since, well, July 3 when I went in the hospital," Moore said. Even though it's a big courthouse, we're family, and we all love each other."

Inside his courtroom Monday, Moore posed for photos behind the bench and with his staff. The return to work was a far cry from early July through the end of August when Moore, fighting COVID-19, was hospitalized at Our Lady of the Lake. The judge spend several of those weeks in the intensive care unit. 

During the nearly two months Moore was hospitalized, the majority of the time on a ventilator, doctors prepared his wife, Sheryl, for the worst.

Moore credits his doctors, nurses, and God's grace with saving his life. As the calendar turned to September, Moore returned home. His recovery, though, was just beginning.

"Everywhere I went I was on oxygen," Moore said. "So I had a portable oxygen tank with me and the wound VAC everywhere I went. It was just pretty much total misery."

Following his hospitalization, Moore was still having trouble walking and using his hands. He needed Sheryl's assistance in doing the simplest of tasks, like getting out of bed and getting dressed.

Since September, he's faced a slew of surgeries, most recently two weeks ago on his legs. Moore insists, though, he is on the mend.

"My left foot's coming where I can hit heel, toe," Moore said. "It sounds trivial, but if you can't hit heel, toe, then you trip all over the place."

As he works to get stronger physically, with the help of therapy, it's his mental health, Moore says, was taking a hit. In recent weeks he knew he had to get out of his Zachary home and back on the bench.

"I love to use my mind, and you're not able to do that sitting at your house," Moore said. "I've worked hard trying to get to this point, both mentally and physically, worked hard trying to get here. I know I got more to do, and I plan on doing it because I want to get back to where I was before this happened."

Days before being released from the hospital, Moore implored the public to follow the precautions to limit the spread of the virus. Months later, he's once again asking for everyone to do their part by getting vaccinated.

"Please, if, when it becomes available, get in line," Moore urged. "Let your arm get poked, so you don't have to worry about this."


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