When Gerard Hedges took his first four steps, his specialists, fellow patients and the staff at Select Rehabilitation Hospital of Denton celebrated by clapping.
“I didn’t think I could do anything,” said Hedges, 72, sitting in his wheelchair at the hospital Tuesday.
In August, Hedges suffered a heart attack. It was a week before his 50th wedding anniversary.
He was admitted to a local hospital and stayed there until early October.
He was then admitted to Select Rehabilitation Hospital twice. The first time was in early October, but after a week, near the end of a rehab session, Hedges became unstable and had to be transferred back to the local hospital for a pacemaker procedure.
His wife, Freda, 69, said it was a difficult time. She didn’t think she would ever see her husband wake up.
Hedges was on a ventilator for three weeks. He said he does not remember much of what happened during those days.
Hedges began another round of rehabilitation on Oct. 23. He was discharged in mid-November and is now following up with outpatient therapy.
Hedges is one of many patients who receive care at Select Rehabilitation, a 44-bed hospital that provides acute rehabilitation services — a multidisciplinary approach to treating patients who have suffered a stroke, brain injury, amputation or neurological conditions or have any other type of general rehabilitation needs.
Since opening four years ago, the hospital has become known for providing a team-effort approach to treatments through its specialized and intensive programs, which last an average of about 13 days. The program involves not only having staff available at all times, but also working with family support.
“People forget there are whole hosts of medical issues that go along with patients who are getting rehab,” said Dr. Sherif Latif, who specializes in internal medicine. “That person who came here with a stroke and can’t move the right side of their body is not here to just work on their stroke. They had a stroke for a reason — their diabetes was uncontrolled, their blood pressure was uncontrolled. … If you don’t fix their other medical issues, it is going to happen again.”
Michelle Powell, CEO of Select Rehabilitation Hospital of Denton, said the services are needed so much that in a given year, the hospital sees 840 inpatients and 4,000 outpatients.
Freda Hedges, who has worked in home health care, said she felt rehabilitation at the hospital would be a better option for her husband.
Since his diagnosis, Gerard Hedges has lost more than 50 pounds and has had to relearn all of his muscle movements, his wife said. Her husband will visit Select Rehabilitation for outpatient services three times a week.
Gerard Hedges said that his wife has been with him every step of the way and that he wants to continue to get better so they can celebrate their wedding anniversary.
“I also want to square dance,” he said.
His wife said their 100-year-old home in Aubrey was modified to include a ramp for Hedges’ electric wheelchair.
“It won’t be long until he probably does not need it,” she said.
Latif said there are many good stories happening at the hospital. The doctor calls Select Rehab his “feel-good spot.”
“Because we can guarantee that after they come here, everyone will do well,” he said.
Another recent patient needed rehabilitation assistance after she contracted the neuroinvasive form of West Nile virus.
“She suffered from West Nile encephalitis. The West Nile virus affected her brain and surrounding tissue,” Latif said. “It affected her to the point where she was confused for a long time, and some weeks she could not move at all.”
Before arriving at Select Rehabilitation, the woman had been at a Fort Worth hospital, where she was on a ventilator and had been unable to get additional rehabilitation treatments.
At the Denton rehabilitation hospital, the woman received pulmonary rehab to help her lung muscles to get strong enough to breathe on her own. She also received help from a speech therapist to ensure she could swallow and to work on muscle strength in her throat and mouth.
Because the patient had been hospitalized and on a ventilator for a long time, her neck contracted, making it difficult for her to eat and breathe, said Lee Ann Elliott, director of nursing and ancillary services at Select Rehabilitation.
A pulmonologist, a speech therapist and a physical therapist worked together to treat the woman, and after about six weeks, one of her breakthroughs was being able to keep her neck upright.
The woman is now home receiving home health services from a company that donated its care.
Elliot said one of the keys to successful treatment is getting assistance early.
“The sooner you come to acute rehab has a direct impact on your outcome,” Elliot said. “We have seen this time after time.”
KARINA RAMÍREZ can be reached at 940-566-6878. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
SELECT REHABILITATION HOSPITAL OF DENTON
Address: 2620 Scripture St.
On the Web: www.selectrehab-denton.com