Going to the Right Place Matters
September 2, 2020
Early one morning last fall, Alfredo Sanchez, a husband, father, veteran firefighter and popular school bus driver in the Rio Grande Valley, couldn’t lift his left arm. A self-proclaimed chatterbox, his speech suddenly became slurred, his face numb and drooping. Having never experienced such symptoms, Sanchez immediately called 9-1-1 and, within 30 minutes, he was on his way to South Texas Health System McAllen, recently designated as the Upper Valley's first and only DNV-GL Certified Comprehensive Stroke Center by the Det Norske Veritas.
Teaming up To Deliver Life-Saving, FAST Care
On the way to the hospital, EMS staff transmitted Sanchez's vitals to the hospital. That information enabled the highly skilled emergency physicians and nurses at South Texas Health System McAllen to prepare to administer life-saving care. Upon arrival, he immediately underwent testing, which confirmed he had suffered a stroke, after not taking his medication regularly.
Enabling a Fast Recovery
Sanchez undertook rigorous rehabilitation twice per week for two hours a day to help restore his balance and other functions. He attributes his early recovery to a never-give-up attitude, his strong support system and an amazing team of physical, occupational and speech therapists and staff at South Texas Health System Physical Rehabilitation Unit. "They worked with me to establish my goals and motivated me to achieve them, even when I was depressed," he says.
South Texas Health System’s Physical Rehabilitation Unit was the first in the Rio Grande Valley. It is also the region's only rehab unit serving adults, children and adolescents and the Valley's first to be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities. Occupational, physical and speech therapy are available on an inpatient and outpatient basis, as are community reintegration training and support groups to help patients resume activities of daily life.
The Road Back
To help patients recover from a stroke, fall, major illness or surgery, the Unit's multidisciplinary therapists collaborate and develop specialized treatment programs. Alondra Mercado, an oral rehydration therapist certified in treatment specifically geared to patients who have suffered a stroke, says therapists worked together to address Sanchez's balance, limited range of motion and decreased coordination and strength in his upper and lower extremities. Speech therapy helped to eliminate any impairment in speech, cognition and swallowing. Sanchez says his therapists gave him the confidence to overcome his fears. "They pushed and motivated me to meet my goals sooner than expected, such as walking without a walker," he says.
Sanchez is back to work and on the road to better health, having changed his diet and lost nearly 60 pounds. "Having a stroke was the scariest thing I have ever been through," he says. "I didn't expect to survive, but the doctors, nurses and therapists at South Texas Health System McAllen helped me recover and avoid being a burden to my family."
Recognized for Quality Care
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The DNV-GL is the highest level of stroke certification available. It signifies that South Texas Health System McAllen not only diagnoses and treats all kind of strokes quickly and efficiently, but also educates patients and provides a wide range of rehabilitation services to help patients regain their strength and reach their potential. The hospital is also recognized as a Primary Stroke Center by The Joint Commission.