See what some of our patients have to say about Val Verde Regional Medical Center.
'I felt like I was family.'
Carlos Sanchez injured his shoulder at work. When he was diagnosed with a torn rotator cuff and told he would need surgery, he was a little nervous. "I had never had surgery," he said, "I was concerned about the pain and the physical therapy." Mr. Sanchez' surgery was a success and he started physical therapy at Val Verde Regional Medical Center's Institute for Therapeutic Medicine just a few days later.
"I came in and pre-registered (for physical therapy) before I even had the surgery," he said, "It made everything a lot easier. When I came in there was no paperwork and no hassle." When he started physical therapy he was still experiencing some pain from surgery. "Everyone was very conscious of my pain level. They took me through baby steps in physical therapy and encouraged me every time I reached a goal. Everyone was very comforting."
Mr. Sanchez did very well with his physical therapy. He attributes it to dedication on his part and the support he received from everyone at The Institute for Therapeutic Medicine. "They cared about me as a person," he said, "Asked me how I was doing. They knew my name. They took an interest in me. I felt like I was family. It was very comforting."
Although Mr. Sanchez had to miss his yearly family ski trip and stop some of his sports activities due to the surgery, he is now back on track. "I have full range of motion in this shoulder," he said, "I am back to bowling and getting ready to play softball. I have no pain and no limitations. When I saw my surgeon in San Antonio he told me I was ahead of the curve. I would recommend Val Verde to everyone."
'Everyone is just super.'
Carla Brown has been playing the piano since she was seven years old. She fractured her wrist twelve weeks ago and when the cast came off, the muscles in her hand were contracted making it nearly useless. "My surgeon in San Antonio wanted me to see a hand specialist for physical therapy. This (Val Verde Regional Medical Center's Institute for Therapeutic Medicine) is the only facility with hand specialists." Ms. Brown has been seeing Arturo Mendiola and the occupational therapy team for almost three months. In that time, she has gained a great deal of movement. "I can do most of the activities that I could do before I broke my wrist," she said.
Ms. Brown's experience with the staff has been outstanding. "Everyone is just super," she said, "I have had no issues. I have seen no disgruntled employees. I am completely satisfied with the experience I am having." She has started to play the piano a little but is confident she will be able to play to her full ability very soon.
'They truly care about me.'
Ruben Resendez loves golf and bowling. He is an active man. When he retired from the Department of Defense, he took a job as an aircraft technology instructor at the high school. Between his work and his sports, he was a very busy, active man. In May of 2016 he had a stroke. He ended up with serious paralysis on his left side and severe difficulty with speech. Going from being involved in living his life to recovering from a stroke was not easy for him. "My self-esteem suffered," says Resendez.
He came to The Institute for Therapeutic Medicine at Val Verde Regional Medical Center for rehabilitative services: physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy. "The staff are a great asset to the hospital and the community," he says, "They truly care about me."
After spending many months working with Speech Language Pathologists Erin Meinecke and Christine Aguilar, Occupational Therapist Art Mendiola and Physical Therapy Assistant Adrian Vargas; Mr. Resendez is back on the golf course and a regular in the bowling alley.
"I can't thank the hospital enough for the help, training and care I received," he says, "I never felt like a patient. I felt like part of the family." He is especially grateful for Speech Language Pathologist Erin Meinecke, "She wanted to know me," says Mr. Resendez, "she wanted to know about my history, my culture and my life. She was interested in me as a person and not just as a patient."
Although Mr. Resendez still has some issues with his left arm he is speaking clearly, completely mobile and once again an active member of our community. "I struggle a little," he says, "but I have made and will continue to make great improvements. I would recommend this staff of caring professionals to anyone. I believe they are God sent."
Val Verde Regional Medical Center offers a high quality of care. Employees are consistent in their dedication to patients and empowered to provide the very best compassionate care possible with every interaction, every day.
'I trust them.'
Patricia Cadena had to have a knee replacement in December. The doctor told her it was as if her knee was twisted up by a tornado and there was no fixing it. When it came time to choose a physical therapy provider, it was a no brainer for her. "Balde (Briones, Institute of Therapeutic Medicine Director) was my Mom's therapist," she said, "He caught something that prevented her from having hip surgery so I knew where I was going to go."
Physical therapy for knee replacements isn't easy. It can be somewhat painful to strengthen all the muscles around the artificial joint and get it working as well as a natural knee. When asked how the physical therapy team kept her motivated she replied, "They motivated me just by the way they are. I trust them. They get along. I like the way they work. It's like a family gathering. I have worked with every therapist and they are all super. Everyone is great from the desk to the back."
Ms. Cadena is back to work and back to doing everything she normally does. She joked, "I'm doing the other knee just so I can come back."
Local Man Pleased with Service
Roberto De Leon (also known as "Bobby" and "Coach") has always been an active person. "I've been a bowler and a golfer for 40 years," he says with a smile, "I coached Little League and High School Golf." He did not foresee a time when he would ever have to slow down. He is a retired educator but continues to work at South West Texas Junior College providing citizenship instruction and helping students with English and interview skills. He has been doing this for 11 years.
"I never thought I would have surgery," he says, "but when I did, it never occurred to me to leave Del Rio. I had every confidence in Dr. Floyd." Mr. De Leon had rotator cuff surgery. He was very concerned about not being able to be active. After surgery he was prescribed physical therapy. Art Mendiola worked with him. "Dr. Floyd told me not to rush back into my activities. I did everything they told me to in physical therapy and gradually gained more strength."
Mr. De Leon is very pleased with the service he has received all around. "They gave me the tools to use to get better," he says. He is now back to full strength and freely participating in all his former activities. "I bowl against Balde (Baldemar Briones, Director of the Institute of Therapeutic Medicine at Val Verde Regional Medical Center) every Thursday night."
Improving Through Motivation
Mari Mijares is really happy with the speech therapy her son Xavier has received at Val Verde Regional Medical Center's Institute for Therapeutic Medicine. Xavier is five years old and has been seeing Jacqui Barrera, Speech Therapist for going on three years. As a result, Xavier is improving and verbalizing much better.
"Jacqui provides him with motivation," says his Mom, "She always goes by what Xavier is interested in. When he was interested in fire trucks, she incorporated them in his therapy. He is always eager and happy to come to his appointments."
Xavier will be going to kindergarten this year. He is currently in summer school to help him adapt to what is going to be a new experience for him. Change is not something that is easy for him but his increasing ability to verbalize has helped significantly.
'The Best Care Anyone Could Wish For'
It is no secret Val Verde Regional Medical Center has an amazing Surgical Department. The Surgical Team consistently scores 99 percent in customer satisfaction. They recently received a glowing report from a patient who had a colonoscopy performed.
"I have had the same procedure done five or six times. Every time I have received the best, most professional care anyone could wish for. Eleven years ago I had major surgery at this hospital (VVRMC) and I attribute my complete recovery not only to the skill of Dr. Lindsey but also to the excellence of nursing provided me by the staff of your hospital."
Frances Cervera Feels Like Family
In November of 2015, Frances Cervera had back surgery. She ended up with sepsis from her knees down. She was mostly confined to a wheelchair and could not stand. She was not very optimistic about seeing any improvement when she came to The Institute for Therapeutic Medicine. "When I started, I had a very negative attitude," she says, "I had been through so much I didn't think I could get better. They (the staff) gave me positivity when I couldn’t find it for myself."
Ms. Cervera felt welcomed every time she had physical therapy. The staff made her feel at home. She felt she had the support of everyone in the department and they all cheered her on as she made progress. Much to her surprise, she graduated from the wheelchair to a walker. "I cried tears of joy at every milestone," she says. "The staff worked with me when I was having bad days. They were flexible and pushed me just enough. They got to know me as a person. The whole experience was wonderful."
Now Ms. Cervera has a cane and some foot braces. No more wheelchair. No more walker. She attributes her success to everyone she worked with at the Institute and is grateful for their support and encouragement. "I pray for them," she says, "I'm even friends with some of them on Facebook and they still care about how I am doing. I would recommend them to everyone and if I ever need therapy again, I know where I will come."
Great Care Fast
Maria Hernandez dislocated her elbow. She first came to Val Verde Regional Medical Center's Emergency Department where she received great care fast. She went to see Dr. Ira Floyd (orthopedic surgeon) and was referred to the Institute for Therapeutic Medicine. When she began therapy she was unable to straighten her arm. She couldn't work.
"From the staff at reception all the way through everyone made me feel at home. They all behaved professionally but also made me feel comfortable." She points out everyone learner her name and truly cared about her and her therapy. Ms. Hernandez had a great recovery and is back to doing everything she did before her injury.
"If you need care, go to the hospital," she says, "Their care is excellent. Everyone knows I am honest. I don't say things that are not true."
Mother and Son Learning Together
Shaile Yanez and her son Nicholi have been coming to see Speech Therapist, Jacqui Barerra for six months. Nicholi is three years old and has been diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum. His verbal skills are affected. "He doesn't really talk," says his mother, "He knows a few words and that's about it." Nicholi started out in Early Childhood Intervention where his verbal skills improved but there were still behavioral issues. Then he came to the Institute for Therapeutic Medicine. "His behavior has really improved," says Ms. Yanez, "He is showing a lot of growth."
Ms. Barerra includes Nicholi's mom in the lessons—unless Nicholi doesn't want her there. "One day he just went in and closed the door," says his mom, "I take my cues from him and just wait outside." Ms. Barerra also takes her cues from Nicholi. "I follow each child's lead," she says, "They all like different things and learn in different ways. I can't just use one technique for everyone. I build up Nicholi's vocabulary by discussing things he picks up on his own. He leads the lessons."
The closeness Ms. Barerra feels with Nicholi is obvious. "I get close to all my kids and their families," she says. His mom adds, "Sometimes Jacqui has to take him to the car because he doesn't want to leave."
Broken Knuckles Lead to Physical Therapy
Rosa Linda Sanchez fell and broke some knuckles in her had. She required both stitches and physical therapy. When she first came to the Institute for Therapeutic Medicine, she couldn’t close her hand. The flexibility was gone and her injury was complicated due to arthritis.
"Everyone was so nice," she says, "from the desk people to the therapists, everyone was cordial and welcoming. They worked around my schedule for appointments. The whole atmosphere was very family-like." Ms. Sanchez is very pleased with her results. Even before her injury she was unable to make a tight fist with the hand due to an old injury from a dog bite. It had been 8 years.
"I can now close this hand completely," she says, "I am pleased with my results." She was certain to point out patients have to do their part in the recovery process. "It isn't enough to just show up. You have to do the work," she says as she makes a fist.
Someone Looking Out for Me
Mimi Mikolay is a volunteer for Val Verde Regional Medical Center’s Auxiliary. When she fell and broke a bone underneath the rotator cuff in her shoulder, she was prescribed physical therapy. She went once a week for a month. “I don’t know why I went somewhere else,” she says, “I just didn’t really think about it.” As luck would have it, when she fell at the bowling alley the first people to come to her aid were Balde Briones, Director of the Institute for Therapeutic Medicine and Adrian Vargas, also from the Institute. “Balde was very concerned about me,” says Mimi, “They both were. The fact that they kept asking how I was doing when they saw me later at the hospital made me feel like someone was looking out for me.”
A few months later she went to the Institute for a balance assessment because she was having dizzy spells (turned out everything was fine and the dizzy spells stopped). Balde asked Mimi how her arm was doing. “I thought it was ok,” she says, “My motion was limited but I just thought it was my new ‘normal’.” Balde asked if he could do a brief assessment of Mimi’s shoulder. He told her she should have more movement and suggested she go back to the doctor so she could have more physical therapy. She did. This time around she got three days a week and went to The Institute for Therapeutic Medicine at Val Verde Regional Medical Center.
“They started me out with heat, massage and ultrasound,” says Mimi, “Then came stretching and strengthening. It was a little painful but the improvement was amazing and it made the soreness worth it.” Mimi can’t say enough good things about The Institute for Therapeutic Medicine and the support and treatment she received. “Everybody in this department is top notch. They are professional, friendly and compassionate. Most importantly they truly care. I have so much more movement than I had before. I even used a heavier bowling ball than I did BEFORE my injury.”
Mimi is very thankful that Balde Briones took the time to check her shoulder and for noticing there was room for a lot of improvement. Mimi is back to bowling and back to an improved range of motion and ability. She wasn’t sore after bowling even though she used a heavier ball. She was so delighted with her experience at Val Verde Regional Medical she said, “I guess I’ll just have to hurt something else so I can come back.” Of course, she was joking but she added, “If I ever need therapy again, I will come here (to Val Verde Regional Medical Center) and I will recommend them to everyone.”
"Cardiac Rehab was a Godsend"
Cardiac Rehab at Val Verde Regional Medical Center
Although Val Verde Regional Medical center’s Cardiac Rehab program is fairly new, it is already making a big difference in the lives of its participants. Patients who are actively engaged in their own health are more likely to stay healthy and manage their condition. VVRMC empowers patients by providing the tools and resources they need to take charge of their health. And they receive the care they need right here in our community.
Alpha Yocham is a perfect example. She had a heart stent put in in 2012 after suffering a heart attack. Because she lived over an hour away from the nearest place she could receive cardiac rehab, she did as her cardiologist recommended at home. She used a treadmill and exercised. She was doing well.
She moved to Del Rio in 2015. When her daughter saw that VVRMC was offering Cardiac Rehab, she made her mother aware of it. “I spoke to my cardiologist,” says Yochum, “he told me they weren’t too sure insurance would cover it so far out but went ahead and wrote a prescription for me.” Insurance did cover it and she was able to begin a second stage of cardiac rehab on February 13th.
“It has been a godsend,” she says. She met with Melinda Martinez, RN who runs the program. Ms. Martinez conducts a thorough assessment and develops a cardiac rehab prescription based on the assessment. Each patient’s program is different but they are all based on what the patient’s abilities. Ms. Yochum has been coming in twice a week and doing the treadmill, bike and weights, slowly building up strength. She is connected to a cardiac monitor which is watched carefully by Martinez to make sure her heart is doing well. “Melinda showed me how much stronger I am than I realized. She is amazing.”
Yochum has also participated in a nutrition class which is part of the holistic approach cardiac rehab embraces. Cardiac rehab utilizes multiple modalities to make sure each patient gets everything they need to succeed. If they need emotional support, counseling is available. It they want to quit smoking, a program is offered. They work on nutrition as well as physical therapy to get better. “We give them all the tools and resources they need to manage their health and succeed,” says Martinez.
“I have always been a health nut,” says Yochum, “I ran, ate healthy food and took care of myself. Heart attacks can happen to anyone. My doctor told me if I hadn’t been as healthy as I was, I would never have survived the heart attack.” Ms. Yochum has completed 30 days of her 90 days of cardiac rehab. “I would recommend this program to everyone,” she says, “Melinda is amazing and the staff here are a great bunch of people.”
If you are interested in cardiac rehab, call830-400-0307.
Adrian Vargas Receives Praise
Val Verde Regional Medical Center's Institute for Therapeutic Medicine is no stranger to praise. Their physical, occupational and speech therapists are frequently highlighted for their compassion and excellent service. People who come to VVRMC for rehabilitative services are generally very pleased.
A patient who prefers to be anonymous told me his interaction with Adrian was "very satisfactory." He fell and thought nothing of it. He felt no pain until a few days later. Then, the pain was sharp and intense from his shoulder to his back. He saw Dr. Manning and tests determined there were no broken bones. Dr. Manning referred him for physical therapy. "I've never had this kind of treatment before," he said, "but if I get hurt again, I will come here."
He has not only recovered from his shoulder injury but his back has also improved. "My brother is stooped over," he said, "Dr. Manning said I was heading the same way. I didn't notice. Now, my back is straight and I feel better than I did before I got hurt."
The Institute for Therapeutic Medicine can be reached by calling 830-542-2430.
Alma Chavez, Alejandra Torres and Carlos Chavez
How many of us have done “bathroom surgery?” You find something growing on your foot or an ingrown hair or toenail and you go to the bathroom and dig it out with scissors or clippers or whatever is on hand. Yes, it is the wrong thing to do – we all know that – but most of us have done it at one time or another. Usually, the wound heals and all is well but not always.
Carlos Chavez conducted some “bathroom surgery” on a corn in his foot. After time went by, it wasn’t healing. He finally told his wife and they went to the ER. There, his foot was x-rayed and examined and it was determined that not only was his toe badly infected, it was actually gangrenous. “Everyone in the ER was really good. They were informative about my condition and even the doctor explained everything in a way that made it easier for me to accept,” he says. The following day Dr. Terry Lindsey did surgery. Unfortunately, he had to remove the toe.
“I felt hopeless when my toe was removed,” he says. He was referred to wound care and physical therapy by Dr. Lindsey at the Institute for Therapeutic Medicine at Val Verde Regional Medical Center. “I found hope again. From the moment I stepped in, Hortencia (Rodriguez) was so cool and kind. Balde (Briones) did a thorough evaluation and assured me it was all going to be all right.” Mr. Chavez came three times each week for wound care. “Alejandra (Torres) is an angle,” he exclaimed, “she is caring, compassionate, professional and did everything she could to make it easier. Everyone took good care of us.”
He has now gone back to doing everything he did before he lost his toe. He credits his wife, Alma, with being supportive and pushing him to keep going. “She has been my backbone for 25 years. I’m a handful and she has been putting up with it for 30 years.”
Mr. Chavez is thankful for the people who treated him at VVRMC and the upbeat, kind attitude everyone displayed. He didn’t want to stop coming to therapy. “If I ever get hurt again, I will come back here. I will recommend it to everyone I know.” But, you can bet he won’t be back because of another “bathroom surgery.”
Cardiac Rehab Builds Confidence
Jeri Kynion was like most of us. It was Thanksgiving time – the beginning of the holiday season. She was working hard, taking care of others and neglecting her own health. She was short of breath and not feeling her best. She saw her doctor and was told she needed to have a procedure done to check her arteries for plaque build-up. Her lab work wasn’t great – cholesterol high, blood pressure high, pre-diabetic. Her doctor prescribed nitroglycerin and advised her to keep it in her purse just in case she felt heart attack symptoms. She kept telling herself she was going to take care of it – after Christmas. On December 26th, Jeri had a heart attack.
“I had felt bad a few days before,” she says, “I had pain but I thought it was heartburn.” When the heart attack hit, she felt pain from her chest all the way through to her back. Her daughter called an ambulance and Jeri took some nitroglycerine. Jeri was transported to the Emergency Department at Val Verde Regional Medical Center. “I want to thank the CEO for bringing in such great stuff,” she says, “The emergency department staff know their stuff. It has improved tremendously.” She was stabilized and transported to Methodist Texsan Heart Hospital in San Antonio. She got 4 stents put in to open up her clogged arteries – one was closed off 85%. Thanks to the nitroglycerin, her daughter’s insistence and care she received at VVRMC, the heart attack did no great damage to her heart.
“After I got home,” she says, “I was so scared. I was afraid I was going to do something to bring on another heart attack. I didn’t know what to do. The hospital had given me a prescription for Cardiac Rehab twice a week but it wasn’t available here. I was very thankful to learn a Cardiac Rehab program was coming.” Jeri began her journey to wellness on February 23rd.
“When I met Melinda (Melinda Martinez, RN, who runs the Cardiac Rehab program) the fear left me. She is so encouraging and supportive and told me exactly what I needed to do so I wouldn’t have another heart attack.”
Ms. Martinez had this to say about Jeri, “She is very motivated. She came to every appointment, attended every class and just kept asking for more.” Cardiac Rehab isn’t just about exercise. It is about changing the way you do everything. It covers the entire body and the emotional state of each patient. A thorough evaluation is done at the first meeting which provides Ms. Martinez with a blueprint on an exercise program. Classes are offered in nutrition, mental well-being, medication and much more. Each Cardiac Rehab patient is monitored while they are in the program to be certain everything is going as it should. The goal is to prevent re-occurrence by providing the education and tools needed for people to switch to a heart healthy lifestyle. It allows them to manage and control their own health and become partners with their healthcare providers.
After 36 sessions of Cardiac Rehab, Jeri has lost over 40 pounds, no longer needs blood pressure medication, has lowered her cholesterol significantly, is no longer at risk for diabetes – in fact, she has changed her diet and exercise habits and is now healthy. “It’s hard to explain what it’s like mentally when you have a heart attack. There’s so much fear. Cardiac Rehab takes away the fear and replaces it with confidence. I am committed to this new lifestyle. In fact, I went dancing the other night. This is something I couldn’t have done six months ago. “
For more information on Cardiac Rehab, call 830-308-5500. You can find a full list of Heart Healthy classes (everyone is welcome) at vvrmc.org/calendar.