All posts by Jason Glogau

Rudy Garza

Rudy Garza (pictured with his wife, Gloria) suffered a stroke while visiting Casper, WY from his home in Philadelphia, PA.

Rudy Garza and his wife, Gloria, were visiting Casper, WY when he suffered a stroke. Treated at Wyoming Medical Center, Rudy and Gloria were determined to get back to their home in Philadelphia, PA. Unfortunately, Rudy’s condition simply didn’t allow an immediate return home on a plane. After four days, Rudy transferred to Elkhorn Valley Rehabilitation Hospital for inpatient rehabilitation.

“When we arrived [at EVRH] we were very scared,” said Gloria. “We aren’t from here, and we were dealing with a medical condition that we were unfamiliar with. My husband is not a trusting person, and it takes time for him to build trust with people professionally. My husband never feels safe, but he felt safe here.”

Rudy echoed his wife’s reflection on their arrival. “I’ve been in countless hospitals, both military and civilian,” he said. “Usually, it takes time to build trust with the staff, but not here. I have felt cared for since day one.”

The staff at EVRH shared the Garza’s determination to help them return to the City of Brotherly Love. They got to work immediately on getting Rudy healthy enough to fly home.

“From the day we arrived, I felt like he was taken care of medically, psychologically, and emotionally,” Gloria noted. “The entire staff was focused on his success. Everyone from the administration, food service, housekeeping, therapy, and nursing was dedicated to his healing.”

With everyone working as a team, Rudy was able to heal quickly. Gloria recognized the impact this interdisciplinary approach had on Rudy’s recovery. “Food service did an amazing job and they cared about his healing and well-being,” she stated. “The nurses cared for my husband, but would also ask me if there was anything I needed. The pharmacy staff has worked tirelessly to make sure all of our medications are organized for when we go home. Respiratory helped us get set up with a CPAP. Therapy worked as a team and did a remarkable job in helping him recover.”

“We’ve been to hospitals all over the world and not one has been as dedicated to holistic care as Elkhorn is,” Gloria added.

Rudy added, “Everyone who interacted with me was kind and caring. I was able to go to therapy with an open heart.”

After 23 days, Rudy made enough progress to return home to Philadelphia. “I’ve gotten what I came for, and so much more,” Rudy said. “I feel confident going forward, and I know that I’m only going to get better from here.”

“This place has been a Godsend,” Gloria added, “and we are thankful He parked us here.”

The Garzas made a lasting impact on the staff at EVRH, as well. “I’ve personally never heard kinder words about this hospital and the staff,” said Gabriella Aragon, one of Rudy’s physical therapists. “I’m incredibly proud to work here, and I feel very privileged to have gotten to know [the Garzas].”

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Elkhorn Valley Rehabilitation Hospital was named one of the best rehabilitation hospitals in the nation

Elkhorn Valley Rehabilitation Hospital Among Nation’s Best…Again!

Elkhorn Valley Rehabilitation Hospital has been named in the top 10 percent of inpatient rehabilitation facilities in the United States for the 11th year in a row. The hospital’s care was cited as being patient-centered, effective, efficient and timely.

“We are honored to be identified as one of the best inpatient rehabilitation facilities (IRFs) in the United States and the only free-standing IRF in Wyoming,” says Connie Longwell, CEO of Elkhorn Valley Rehabilitation Hospital. “[This achievement] underscores our tireless commitment to helping our patients return to their greatest level of independence and daily living activities. Our team is devoted to the patients in their care, [they] work hard to create a family-like atmosphere, and create a personalized approach to helping each person throughout their recovery.”

Elkhorn Valley Rehabilitation Hospital was ranked in the top 10 percent among 868 inpatient rehabilitation facilities nationwide by the Uniform Data System for Medical Rehabilitation (UDSMR), a non-profit corporation that was developed with support from the U.S. Department of Education’s National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research. The UDSMR maintains the world’s largest database of rehabilitation outcomes.

“Through UDSMR, we collaborate with our peers throughout the United States to share information and establish best practices for patients,” says Dr. Ryan T. Swan, Medical Director of EVRH. “This recognition for the 11th consecutive year is a testament to the exceptional care our staff brings every day to meet the rehabilitation needs of Wyoming’s citizens.”

“To provide the highest level of rehabilitative care available in the United States to our own community and surrounding communities is truly rewarding,” Longwell says. “This means our family, friends, and colleagues don’t need to leave the area to receive the best care available.”

Elkhorn Valley Rehabilitation Hospital provides specialized rehabilitative services to patients who are recovering from or living with disabilities caused by injuries, illnesses, or chronic medical conditions. This includes, but is not limited to, strokes, brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, orthopedic injuries, cerebral palsy, ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease), multiple sclerosis, and Parkinson’s disease.

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Ellen DeFrank

Ellen DeFrank suffered multiple strokes affecting her left side.

Ellen DeFrank, 57, moved from Arkansas to Casper, WY to be closer to her family. Six months later, Ellen suffered a stroke while visiting her brother and sister-in-law. While sitting on their couch, Ellen suddenly couldn’t lift her head. Her speech had become slowed and slurred. Ellen recalls her face did not droop, which often accompanies the slurred speech. But she and her family knew something wasn’t right and called 9-1-1.

Ellen was taken by ambulance to Wyoming Medical Center where the Primary Stroke Team delivers the best and fastest stroke treatment possible. Imaging of Ellen’s brain showed multiple strokes that affecting her left side. In fact, many “old” and “new” strokes were found. This could explain Ellen’s nagging headaches and dizziness over the last few years.

After three days at Wyoming Medical Center, Ellen transferred to Elkhorn Valley Rehabilitation Hospital. This began her 16-day journey in acute inpatient rehab. Ellen’s rehab focused on her global left-sided weakness and word finding difficulty.

Like many stroke survivors, Ellen experienced post-stroke depression. Ellen was reluctant to leave her room and enter the world of rehab. “Afraid that no one would understand her speech,” Ellen struggled with the desire to go home and with her family’s desire for her stay and recover. In Ellen’s own mind, she “didn’t make sense and sounded different.” In fact, she would often feel her mouth to make sure it was moving. On Ellen’s 3rd day at EVRH, she went to the cafeteria, where another patient assured her she was understood. Coupled with the reassurance of her EVRH clinical team, this paved the way for Ellen’s emotional and physical recovery.

Ellen continues her stroke recovery with outpatient therapy at EVRH.

During her stay at Elkhorn Valley, Ellen received physical, occupational and speech therapy. Always humble throughout her stay, Ellen credits speech therapy “for giving her a voice,” and physical therapy for “teaching her to walk.” Although Ellen is a petite 4’11”, she “felt like 6’0 when walking around Elkhorn Valley.” She would simply say “morning” to everyone she would encounter, as “good” was hard to say. Her philosophy is that a smile and a “morning” makes a potential bad day good.

Ellen is very proud to have achieved all her therapy goals while at Elkhorn Valley. During her stay, Ellen’s philosophy was (and still is), “always follow through and don’t stop!”

Ellen also enjoyed an early birthday celebration during her stay. She was thrilled to escort her family to EVRH’s South Day Room for this special occasion. She reports “no limping, walking normal and straight,” – definitely reason to celebrate.

While she still wants to “talk better without pause and delay,” Ellen is doing exceptionally well upon discharge and attends EVRH outpatient therapy.

Ellen is happy to be home with her family – enjoying their conversations, watching movies and walks in the neighborhood. She would also like to remind all that “not every stroke is the same.” Please do as Ellen and her family did and call 9-1-1 at the first signs of a stroke.

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What to Pack for a Hospital Stay

Whether you are a patient preparing for an inpatient hospital stay, or someone who’s loved one unexpectedly finds themselves in a hospital, having the right things for a hospital stay is important. Packing the right items will help make your stay less stressful and allow you to focus on your recovery.

Below you’ll find a summary of suggested items to pack for a hospital stay.

Clothing

  • 5-6 outfits of loose fitting pants and tops
  • Undergarments
  • Sweater or jacket
  • Supportive pair of athletic shoes with non-skid soles
  • Night clothes (gown, robe, pajamas)

Toiletries

  • Soap, if you prefer a certain brand
  • Toothbrush, toothpaste, mouthwash & dentures
  • Comb, brush, shaving supplies & cosmetics
  • Deodorant, lotion, perfume, & aftershave

Miscellaneous

  • Insurance cards & medical information
  • Eyeglasses & hearing aids
  • Incontinence pads (if needed)
  • Pillow, blanket
  • Family pictures
  • Laundry basket or bag

Click here to download a printable version of this checklist

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Understanding Influenza: 5 Facts to Know this Flu Season

According to the Centers for Disease Control, the 2017-2018 flu season was one of the worst. Understanding Influenza – how it’s spread, how to prevent it, and the symptoms of the flu – can help keep you, and your community healthy this winter. Below are five flu facts to know as we enter flu season.

Can a flu shot give me the flu?

The Influenza vaccine is safe and cannot give you the Flu. It takes 2 weeks to build up your immunity, so you can contract the flu before developing the antibodies.

How is the flu spread?

Influenza is a contagious respiratory virus that spreads when you are exposed to an infected person that coughs or sneezes. It can also be spread by touching your nose, mouth or eyes after touching a surface with the virus on it.

How can I prevent the flu?

There are several things you can do to keep yourself flu-free! The most important step you can take is to get a flu vaccine each year. You can also help prevent getting the flu by frequently using hand sanitizer or washing your hands. Try to avoid touching your nose, mouth or eyes. Avoid spreading the flu by covering your coughs/sneezes and by staying home if you are sick. Additionally, be sure to keep surfaces in your home clean.

What are the symptoms of the flu?

Symptoms usually start 1-4 days after exposure and usually come on suddenly. You are most contagious in the first 3-4 days after the illness starts. However, you can infect others before you are symptomatic and up to a week after becoming sick.

Flu symptoms can range from mild to severe. They can include fever, headache, fatigue, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, sore throat, cough and chills. Seek medical care for any worsening symptoms.

What is the treatment for the flu?

Rest, pain relievers and extra fluids will help to lessen your symptoms. While antibiotics are not effective for the flu, there are prescription antiviral medications that can help to lessen the symptoms and shorten the duration. But, they must be started within 48 hours after onset.

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Resources for Caregivers

There are only four kinds of people in the world. Those who have been caregivers. Those who are currently caregivers. Those who will be caregivers, and those who will need a caregiver.” – Rosalyn Carter

Caregivers often hide in plain sight. They make up a substantial portion of the United States population. In the US alone, there are over 40 million unpaid caregivers for adults over the age of 65. We tend not to realize the strain put on an individual who cares for a loved one. Instead, we see only the selflessness with which they provide care. Unfortunately, there’s often more going on than we recognize.

Caring for a loved one can be overwhelming, particularly when providing care for a spouse. It’s important to understand and utilize the resources available to you as a caregiver. Here are some great resources for caregivers:

VA Caregiver Support

If you provide care for a veteran, the Veterans Administration has a number of resources available to you. Services offered include mentoring, diagnosis-specific tips and guidance. Additionally, help is available to care for your loved one so that you have time to care for yourself. Many of these services are provided at no cost.

Diagnosis-specific Support Networks

Many organizations offer online support networks for patients and caregivers, focused on specific diagnoses. These support networks typically have segments dedicated to the unique needs of caregivers. Some of the organizations offering these support networks include:

Local Support Groups

Hospitals often host support groups on a variety of topics. Some are diagnosis-specific. Others focus directly on caregivers. It can be quite helpful to connect with individuals who have had similar experiences to yours. Contact your local hospital to find out what support groups they host and when they meet.

An empty lantern provides no light. Self-care is the fuel that allows your light to shine brightly.” – Unknown

As a caregiver, it’s important not to neglect yourself. The resources above offer support so that you can care for yourself, too. Additionally, you may speak with your healthcare provider for more resources. Remember, taking good care of yourself is part of providing care to another!

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How to Spot a Stroke

Every 40 seconds, someone in the United States suffers a stroke. Every four minutes, someone dies.

Stroke is the fifth-leading cause of death in the United States, responsible for about one out of every 20 deaths.

As many as 80% of strokes may be preventable. But if someone is suffering a stroke, one of the most important factors is time. Knowing the signs of stroke, and what to do in that situation, could save a person’s life.

All you need to remember is F-A-S-T.

F: Face Drooping

Look at the person’s face. Does one side droop? Do they feel numbness on one side of their face?
Action item: Ask the person to smile. Is their smile lopsided or uneven?

A: Arm Weakness

Does the person feel numbness or weakness in one arm?
Action item: Ask the person to raise both arms above their head. Are they able to lift both arms? Does one arm drift downward?

S: Speech Difficulty

Is the person making sense when they speak? Are their words slurred?
Action item: Ask the person to say a simple sentence, like “The sky is blue.” Can you understand what they say?

T: Time to Call 9-1-1

If any of these symptoms are present, call 9-1-1 immediately. Tell the operator you think someone is having a stroke. Do this even if these symptoms disappear. Time is critical, so it is important to get them to the hospital right away. Be sure to note the time when the symptoms appeared.
Action item: Call 9-1-1!

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3 Tips for Keeping Yourself Flu-Free

It’s that time of year again…flu season. With the constant risk of catching the virus, educating yourself can be the key to being flu-free.

The flu typically is spread when someone who has it coughs, sneezes, or talks. Droplets from his or her mouth spread to the mouths or noses of people nearby. Additionally, you can catch the flu from touching an object that has flu germs on it, and then touching your mouth or nose.

Once flu germs get inside the body, they go to the respiratory system. There, they attach to those cells, essentially turning them into more flu germs. That’s when your immune system begins to fight back. It does so by creating two different proteins that attack the virus – cytokines and chemokines. Cytokines multiply to help fight off the virus. Chemokines create white blood cells (called T cells) to help fight against the virus, as well.

Eventually, the fever that comes along with the flu is your body’s way of killing off the virus.

As it turns out, many symptoms you feel from the flu aren’t the virus itself. Rather, it is your immune system working to fight it off.

While it’s great that your body has the ability to fight the flu, the best defense is always prevention. To keep yourself flu-free, try these 3 tips:

  1. Get a flu shot. This vaccine is the number one way to keep the flu out of your body.
  2. You’ve heard it before, and you’ll hear it again: wash, wash, wash your hands. When you wash your hands, you wash flu (and other) germs away, limiting your risk of catching them.
  3. Last, keep the surfaces clean in your house to help remove any flu germs.
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Physical Therapy vs. Opioids

Who among us hasn’t suffered the nuisance of a minor pain now and then? Usually, we can find quick relief with over-the-counter medications. But for those with chronic pain, stronger painkillers like opioids may be prescribed.

Americans have increasingly been prescribed opioids – painkillers like Vicodin, OxyContin, Opana, and methadone, and combination drugs like Percocet. The use of these prescription drugs has quadrupled since 1999, although there hasn’t been an increase in the amount of pain Americans report.

In 2012, health care providers wrote 259 million opioid prescriptions. That’s enough for every adult in the United States to have a bottle of pills.

In response to this growing opioid epidemic, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) released opioid prescription guidelines recognizing that opioids are appropriate in certain cases such as cancer treatment, palliative care, end-of-life care, and in certain acute care situations – if properly dosed. But for other pain management, the CDC recommends non-opioid alternatives such as physical therapy to cope with chronic pain.

Physical therapy is a safe and effective way to treat long-term pain. Physical therapists can provide evidence-based treatments that help not only treat the pain, but the underlying cause of the pain. They can provide exercises that focus on strength, flexibility, posture and body mechanics. Strengthening and stretching parts of the body that are affected by pain can decrease the pain, increase mobility, and improve overall mood.

So before agreeing to an opioid prescription for chronic pain, consult with your physician to discuss your options for a non-opioid treatment.

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