Success Stories

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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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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Recognized Among Top 10% in the Nation

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

“It is such an honor to be recognized in the Top 10 percent again this year. It’s made more special that it also marks our 10th anniversary,” says Mike Phillips, CEO of Elkhorn Valley Rehabilitation Hospital. “Our wonderful team of professionals is passionate about helping our patients reach their full potential. We strive each and every day to provide the highest level of care possible and to work diligently to ensure our patients reach their highest level of independence.”

Elkhorn Valley Rehabilitation Hospital was ranked in the Top 10 percent from among 870 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, 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 Elkhorn Valley Rehabilitation Hospital. “This recognition for the 10th consecutive year is a testament to the exceptional care our staff brings every day to meet the rehabilitation needs of Wyoming’s citizens.”

“It is so rewarding to be able to provide such a high level of care right here in our community so our friends, family and colleagues don’t have to travel out of state and can recover close to home,” Phillip says.

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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