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Woman giving a child a piggyback ride.


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

Frances CerveraIn 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 HernandezMaria 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 YanezShaile 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 SanchezRosa 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.

Bathroom Surgery

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

Patient Grateful for Surgical Team

I just wanted to thank you for all your help getting me through my surgery.

Can you please pass this message along?!

Please let everyone in surgery know that I am so thankful for their care. Everything was so professional and the process was so smooth. I felt completely comfortable the entire time and well cared for. I am very impressed with the service I received and i truly couldn’t have gone to a better place. From the moment I stepped into day surgery Mrs Maryanne was so kind and helpful, there was another RN that helped me in day surgery but I didn’t catch her name...she was so awesome too, she was so friendly and welcoming as was everyone else from Joanne in the OR and Maria in recovery to my anesthesia nurse Mr. Tarpley and of course Dr. Salama..everyone was great. I was a bit nervous but everything went great and i am so glad I chose to come here. Just please let them know I am very thankful for their great care! Blessings! ❤️

An Ambassador for Acceptance

There are people who would say Maria Sanchez is not a lucky child. She was born without hands and is non-verbal. In her life, she will undoubtedly face obstacles and cruelty. However, her parents (and pretty much anyone who has met Maria) would never call her unlucky. “She’s a very happy child,” says her mother, Elizabeth Sanchez, “She smiles and laughs a lot and communicates with her eyes. She has adapted so well and uses what she has. She’s an angel.”

Elizabeth and Memo Sanchez were new parents when Maria was born twelve years ago. They struggled at first. “She spent 6 weeks in the NICU,” says her Mom, “It was hard but by the second week; I was ready to take her home and show her the world. I was ready to teach her however she could learn. She is just amazing.” If you spend just a few minutes with Maria and her family, it is easy to see why she has adapted so well to the limitations of her body. You can feel the love her parents have for their precious daughter. They are a happy family and believe absolutely that Maria is a gift from God.

Maria has a lot of friends in the community. She goes to school at Garfield and has been welcomed as a new student with open arms by her schoolmates and the staff. She has the incredible ability of making people put their kindest self forward. Of course, there are cruel people in the world but, for the most part, people take the example of Maria’s parents and approach her with love. “There are so many people in the community that we would never have met if it weren’t for Maria,” says her Mom, “She makes friends everywhere she goes.”

The support of her parents and her father’s family have been crucial to Maria’s development. “My husband is my rock,” says Elizabeth, “He is so much more involved than most Dads.” When you watch Memo interact with his daughter, you can feel the love and gentleness. Maria’s grandfather built a special box for Maria that helps her be able to reach books and turn the pages herself. Her Grandmother encourages Maria and works with her consistently to help her achieve everything she possibly can. None of them pity her or consider her anything else but an angel.

Maria can do a lot with her feet. She can use a fork and spoon to feed herself, brush her teeth, get undressed and put her socks on (although she prefers to be barefoot for obvious reasons). She gets a lot of support at school but her parents felt she could use a little more Occupational Therapy.

Despite sounding like it is just for work, Occupational Therapy is really about supporting people to achieve the best possible results in activities of daily living. Val Verde Regional Medical Center’s Institute of Therapeutic Medicine is where Maria has been receiving Occupational Therapy for the past 3 months or so. “When we came, we were focused on how she could feed herself without using her feet. Some restaurants don’t like that she uses her feet,” said her Mom. Diana Wilburn, COTA and Arturo Mendiola, OT are the Therapists who have been working with Maria. Art put together a splint Maria can wear on her small arm to help her hold a spoon or fork. For the first time ever, she fed herself using her upper extremities. She has now advanced to drawing. Diana has suggested activities which make Maria more dexterous. Maria and her Mom made Easter goodie bags for all the kids in her classroom recently. “Diana was really surprised at the number of functional skills Maria could already do,” says her proud Mom, “Everyone here is so kind and so supportive.”

One of Maria’s greatest skills is as an ambassador. She helps children see that everyone is different but we all have something good to offer. She helps adults come forward with their best selves. She is a celebrity in our community and people view her not by her challenges but by her amazing successes. She is confident and happy. She and her family are a shining example of what can be accomplished with perseverance, patience, love and a positive attitude. It isn’t always easy but Maria is always there, smiling and achieving more and more every day. In her mother’s words, “She is amazing and helps me see God’s work every day.”

A Caring Team

Recently, I had to visit VVRMC every day, twice a day for 10 days for treatment. During my visits there, I encountered a very gracious, caring and helpful staff, specifically:

Rosie Castro, receptionist and hospital greeter. She always has a smile on her face and is friendly to everyone. She’s a phenomenal multi-tasker – answering phone calls and helping people as they walk in;

Frankie Acevedo, maintenance, very caring, he helped me get where I needed to go. I have arthritis and use a cane. He made sure I got to my destination safely;

Sergio Hernandez and Dionora, PCPs. They are super nice and extremely helpful. At night and on weekends, they wheeled me to and from Nurses Station No 4 where I received my treatments;

Amazing nurses at Station No 4 – Lisa, Lorie and especially, Augie and Mida. They made pleasant what could have been an unpleasant experience;

Rick Gomez, MRI, very courteous and comforting prior to and after my exam.

Please relay this information to the above employees’ supervisors. It is my hope their excellent work is appreciated and acknowledged. They reflect positively on your hospital.

Lab Provides Excellent Customer Service

Outstanding Efforts by VVRMC Lab Staff

Recently, Linda Walker, CEO of VVRMC received a letter from a grateful parent. This parent recognized the outstanding work and high level of customer service provided by Maricela Calvetti, Lab Operations Manager and Katrina Bernal, Phlebotomist. Here is what the parent had to say (some changes have been made to protect the identity of this family as per their request).

Our child has autism and many of the social interactions that others take for granted are often difficult for them and that makes for a difficult and challenging experience for us as a family. Our child’s physician requested bloodwork be done and your facility is the only one in the area where we could go get the blood draw completed. We put off the visit for several months because we dreaded how difficult the experience would be. Our child cannot tolerate sitting and waiting, even that is made worse when in large groups, so our stress extended well beyond the discomfort of the actual blood draw.

I contacted Maricela in June and explained the situation. She was very reassuring and told me that her and her team have experience with children like ours and offered to do whatever they could to make the visit easier. Though it may seem trivial, her offer to allow us to come in at an ideal time, to pre-register, and to have her team waiting and ready for us made the entire experience exponentially better.

When we arrived at the hospital, Katrina met us at the lobby door, greeted our child, walked us to the lab, and quickly got things started. Within a couple minutes, the blood draw was completed. She was calm, quiet, and professional with our child and that made all the difference. After the draw, she offered some toys which quickly relieved any anxiety and our child was as calm as normal.

I want to recognize the phlebotomy staff for their outstanding efforts to help us and make this experience better. Also, I want to make sure that you and the executive team know that giving teams like this the flexibility to tailor care, and accommodate the unique patient needs, is an invaluable asset to you and the hospital. Allowing great people the flexibility to do great work makes your entire organization better.

VVRMC employees strive to make every patient interaction remarkable. We are all proud knowing we are sometimes recognized for what we do every day to achieve this. Great job Maricela and Katrina!

Grateful Father


About two and a half years ago, my youngest boy “then 13” had a serious ATV accident at our ranch about 30 mile north of Del Rio. The accident caused major damage to my sons left arm. At the time of his accident, we decided not to call 911, instead we dropped everything and loaded my boy in our truck to drive him to town. While in route I called our family doctor informing him of the accident, he in turn reach-out to the emergency team there at Valverde Med Ctr informing them that we would be arriving with an injured 13 year old. The Valverde Emergency team was ready at our arrival to deal with my sons trauma. We were not at the hospital for maybe 15 minutes, then an air-trip to SA. The VMC emergency team performed their duties flawlessly, quickly prepping him and his arm for emergency move to University Hospital in SA. The trauma center in SA bragged about the quick quality treatment that VMC provided to my son in those 15 minutes of emergency prep.

My wife, and I, then spent the next 3 month in ICU at University Hospital with my son while he had 16 surgical procedures to reconstruct his arm. I will not go into all those details.

After returning to Del Rio we started my son in therapy at VMC to get his arm back as functional as possible. At first, we were very reluctant to have therapy local, however, my wife and I decided to start local, judge the quality of care, and make adjustments if needed. I will say I am enormously glad we decided to work local. My son “Willson” was teamed up with one of your therapy specialist Arturo Mendiola. “Art” as we would come to know him, comes across very “Barrio”. However, my son Willson connected very well with Art and the experience was tremendous. Art would not only provide his heartfelt support during his therapy sessions, he would also provide tools that he would make for Willson during his own time and with his own money for Willson to work with at home to better the strengthen and improve functionality of his arm.

In the end, my son is now back in competitive sports and doing enormously well thanks to the VMC emergency team and the heartfelt support that he received from Arturo Mendiola during his recovery.

Thank you VMC emergency team and Art Mendiola!!



Outstanding Care

Outstanding Care from VVRMC Rehabilitation Services

When you meet Enrique Noriega, it is immediately obvious he works out. Unfortunately, working out can lead to some physical problems. Enrique has surgery on his shoulder to remove bone spurs and clean up his rotator cuff, shoulder and clavicle. It was a significant surgery. Naturally, he would need physical therapy to regain the strength and movement as he recovered.

“I wanted to be with someone who understands how I work out and where I needed to be. Since Sovi (Villalobos) and I have worked out together, it (Val Verde Regional Medical Center Institute for Therapeutic Medicine) was my choice.” Enrique said Sovi would “pull in the reins” when he was doing too much and had complete confidence in his recovery. “You need to be confident you will recover,” he said, “The people here combine being really good at what they do with making it fun. It’s a very rare combination.”

Enrique had surgery in July and has been in physical therapy since then. “Everyone from the front desk to the therapists has been outstanding,” he said, “I am thankful to Balde (Briones, Director of the Institute) and his whole team. I would definitely recommend their services and would come back if I needed to.”

The Best in Wound Care

Support and Innovation Help with Wound Care

Forrestene Mesker had a wound on her leg that would not heal. Her doctor (Mohammed Shafiu, MD) referred her to Val Verde Regional Medical Center’s Rehabilitations Services for wound care because he the care is excellent. “Balde (Briones, Director) and Adrian (Vargas) have been working with me for two years,” she said, “I had pretty much given up hope of the wound ever healing.”

“We tried everything we knew,” said Adrian Vargas, “Then we found out about a new treatment – Hydrofera Blue. We tried it on Ms. Mesker and within two weeks, we knew it was working. Now, we are using it on other patients as well.”

Forrestene came from Carta Valley to Del Rio twice a week for treatment for two years and is still coming. It’s about two hours round trip. “They were confident the wound would get healed,” she said, “Everyone is just great. I have gotten to know everyone pretty well.”

Ms. Mesker isn’t your average patient. She worked in the healthcare field for 27 years as a radiology technician in X-ray and special procedures. “I started out when we loaded and developed our own film,” she said, “There weren’t any CT scans or sonograms. And you didn’t have to go to college. It was all hands on learning.” Her medical knowledge makes her a self-proclaimed “difficult patient” for asking too many questions. Not a problem for Adrian and Balde!

Adrian and Balde answered her questions, offered her support all the way (she was even gifted some compression stockings from the physical therapy Santa) and didn’t give up until they found a solution. She calls Adrian “a doll” and Balde “Mr. Handsome.” The rapport they have developed has helped her to be more optimistic about her recovery. “I would recommend them to anyone and I will definitely continue to use their services when I need to.”

Praise for Lab

This Testimonial was submitted by a grateful parent who had an amazing experience with the phlebotomists at VVRMC's Lab

My family and I had the most awesome experience yesterday with the following phlebotomists: Abby, Maricela and Sandra. My daughter, Maria Sanchez, has special needs. Drawing blood is extremely difficult, because not only does she not have hands, but her little feet don't offer much in the way of "good" veins. So, she's also a "hard stick." Most of her blood is drawn in San Antonio, but her nephrologist happened to give us orders to have it done at home, Del Rio.

Our experiences in San Antonio have not always been a good experience. I get the feeling that the nurses don't want us, her parents, to "tell them what to do." Even though we know our child best. My husband usually "supervises" the stick and tells them what to expect. For example, Maria has a lot of superficial veins, but in San Antonio they tend to stick deep. As a result, missing the vein. Sometimes we've left without having blood drawn.

Fast forward to yesterday, February 11, 2020. The first person we met at the lab was Sandra. I told her exactly what to expect with our daughter. She took my orders and went to get help. After a few minutes, Sandra came back with Abby and Maricela. They talked about how they were going to assist each other and allowed my husband to tell them about her feet and what veins might be better. They actually listened to us!!

Their teamwork and patience was impressive, but I have to say, the most impressive part of our entire experience is, before each stick Maricela said a prayer. I still get chills thinking about it. This was the first time we had experienced this. Thank you, Maricela, for asking God to assist y'all with the job y'all were about to do. Thank you Sandra, for your patience and expertise and for allowing my husband to be part of the entire experience. Thank you Abby, for your patience and expertise. Thank you to all three for your kindness and for working so well together. Y'all are AWESOME!!! May God bless you!!

Sincerely, Guillermo, Elizabeth and Maria Sanchez

Cardiac Rehab Treats you Like Family

Johnny Garcia is a 53-year-old man who takes pride in his health and appearance. He maintained a healthy body weight and exercised at least 150 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity per week.

But that all changed one day earlier this year when he started to feel very fatigued and developed a nagging cough. As it turned out, he did not have a cold or the flu. In fact, tests revealed that he was suffering from heart failure. Mr. Garcia followed up with a cardiologist who determined that he had an ejection fraction of 18%.

An ejection fraction is an estimate of how well the heart is working. A normal ejection fraction is between 50 and 70%. Mr. Garcia’s heart failure was so extreme that he was fitted with a life vest. “A life vest is a medical device worn by patients with life-threatening heart conditions that acts by monitoring the heart and shocking it if needed,” explained Melinda Martinez, RN who provides Cardiac Rehab services. Certainly, Mr. Garcia’s life was forever changed.

Upon returning home to Del Rio, Mr. Garcia was referred to the Cardiac Rehab program at Val Verde Regional Medical Center. Registered nurse, Melinda Martinez, related the disbelief she felt when Mr. Garcia attended his first scheduled appointment with Cardiac Rehab. Mr. Garcia was immediately provided with exercise counseling and training, nutrition plan and counseling to reduce stress, which would strengthen his heart in a safe manner. Unfortunately, due to the coronavirus epidemic Mr. Garcia was unable to attend Cardiac Rehab for several months. Even still, he was determined to improve his health and continued to follow his diet and workout routine. When Cardiac Rehab was able to reopen, Mr. Garcia returned to the program more determined than ever to continue, and had wonderful news. His ejection fraction had improved to 50%! Mr. Garcia expressed great joy over his progress and modestly related “I owe it all to Melinda and the Cardiac Rehab program.” Melinda treats your heart and your health, but also cares about her patients as if they are her family.” Mr. Garcia did not want to draw attention to himself, but agreed to do the interview so that other people can be helped.

Nurse Martinez commented that she is well aware of the benefits of Cardiac Rehab and how it can improves the quality of life for her patients. By adopting a heart-healthy lifestyle Mr. Garcia has decreased his chances of returning to the emergency room for heart related issues. “I am proud of the commitment and dedication demonstrated by Johnny “

Mr. Garcia continues to participate in Cardiac Rehab phase II and will soon be participating in Cardiac Rehab phase III.