Patients Age: 70
Admission Date: 8/2/2017
Admitted From: Burke Hospital
Discharge Date: 3/30/2018
Discharged To: Home-Peru
Length of Stay: 8 months
Reason for Stay: CVA (Cerebrovascular Accident) – Stroke

Details of Experience:

More than healing a patient’s physical condition is also helping a patient’s dream life. But what happens when a medical setback nearly destroys your dream retirement? Here at The Grove we are committed to both physical and emotional healing – providing the medical recovery, psychological strength and spiritual confidence needed to continue living life on your own terms.

In 1968 Maria moved from Lima, Peru to the U.S. A few years later she gave birth to Marisol. Maria worked for many years as a nurse’s assistant in a nursing home until her recent retirement. Together with her devoted partner of 30 years, Louise, they finalized plans to return to their homeland, Peru. The target month was April, 2017. They loved America but it was not home.

In March, 2017, Maria collapsed and was airlifted to Greenwich Hospital. Maria suffered a massive stroke. Once medically stable she was transferred to Burke Hospital for further treatment and intense rehab and then later was transferred to us, The Grove, for further rehab and care, in the beginning of Aug, 2017.

The stroke did too much damage. A complete recovery would seem medically impossible and returning to Peru would have been financially impossible (in the condition she was in a medical flight would have cost well over a hundred thousand dollars). As a retired nurse’s assistant, a woman who devoted her entire career to helping nursing home residents, she and her partner did not have that money. Their retirement fund was air marked for their new home in Peru and the cost to retire. But what she did have was a new extended family – hospital and nursing home staff members – who were going to honor her wish and return the favor. We owed it to her.

The goal was to help Maria regain the strength, balance and coordination needed for her partner Louise to continue caring for her with minimal assistance and to stabilize her condition to the point where she would be cleared to fly a commercial flight home with the company of a nurse. When she first arrived, Maria needed maximum assistance with all her daily activities and it required two people to transfer her and care for her. Maria appeared agitated and depressed. Although her communication was poor and her level of comprehension questionable, it was quite clear that she recognized and felt the pain of her loss and condition.

Although at first Maria presented with fear during her sessions, she quickly warmed up to her therapists. Maria began to make steady small gains and with her beginning success her mood reflected one of hope and courage. The first few weeks were focused on improving her comfort and positioning in her wheelchair by strengthening her right side (the side that was impacted by the stroke) and her core strength. This also helped prevent skin breakdown and improve quality of live. Soon after we helped Maria with strengthening her lower and upper body and improve balance and coordination. For Maria to return safely home, she would need to be able to stand and transfer with only one person assisting.

Maria’s insurance would exhaust before completing the therapy needed, but not her spirits and not our commitment. Marisol her daughter, worked closely and tirelessly with our Finance/Medicaid/Insurance coordinator, Veronica Gordon, in obtaining the resources and insurance needed for Maria to receive all the help, care and therapy she was eligible for throughout her eight months’ stay.

When Maria’s therapeutic gains began to plateau we all recognized that the focus would now shift on maintaining and stabilizing her condition. If Maria can demonstrate stable condition for an extended period of time than spending the rest of her life in the company of those closest to her, at home, would no longer be a dream, but a reality. In her final two months’ our staff helped train Louise how to safely care for her. Maria held strong and stable and her mood and confidence was continuously improving.

In the last weeks, our social worker, Christine Martinez worked closely with Marisol in helping navigate the logistics of the flight. A nurse from an outside home care agency and Marisol were trained by our nursing and rehab staff how to safely care for Maria throughout the journey. Louise went ahead of time to arrange the home and hire a local nurse to help in the beginning for a few hours a day.

On March 30, 2018 at 2:30pm, Maria together with a nurse and her daughter, Marisol, boarded a United Airlines flight home. Louise was there to greet them.