Complications following heart surgery led Paul to NCLTAH

Retirement has been enjoyable for 82-year-old Paul Elder of Bozeman, Montana. Paul spends his days working in his yard, traveling, fly fishing, fixing things around the house, and spending time with his wife of 50 years. Paul is also a father to two daughters and a grandfather to four grandchildren.

Paul recently underwent a mitral valve repair at the recommendation of his physician, who diagnosed Paul with severe mitral regurgitation. This condition is a backflow of blood caused by failure of the heart’s mitral valve to close tightly and coronary artery disease.

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When a knee infection led to septic shock and other complications, Luis chose NCLTAH to help him recover

Luis Pagan moved to Fort Collins in 2005 with his significant other of 32 years and his two children. The 64-year-old loves woodworking, fixing electronics, hiking, and traveling.

One March day, Luis’s life dramatically changed when he began to feel weak and fell on the floor at home. Unable to get up, Luis was taken by ambulance to the acute care hospital. The day before, Luis had done a five-mile hike and felt fine.

It turned out that Luis had a knee infection which caused septic shock. Unfortunately, Luis experienced many complications during his initial hospitalization, including respiratory issues, blood clots, and renal failure.

Looking ahead to the next phase of his recovery, Luis spoke with Arba Boci, a clinical liaison at Northern Colorado Long Term Acute Hospital (NCLTAH). Luis felt good about what they discussed and chose to transfer to NCLTAH.

“Everyone works together to help each other out,” Luis said about the NCLTAH, a critical care hospital. “It’s been such a great environment.”

Luis offered lots of praise for the NCLTAH staff, which significantly impacted him during his stay.

“I loved all the nurses, PCTs, and Dr. Pearson. They were incredible! Dr. Pearson was empathetic, compassionate, friendly, and always makes you feel like a friend and not just a patient. The CEO, Brenda Simon, was awesome and so personable. The PCTs, Dylan Seagren, Isaiah Parker, Erica Johnson, and Kamika Kieler, went above and beyond with caring for me. The nurses, Kelly Parkhouse and Katie Martin, have been great! They are so positive and have a great attitude. Amy Oestmann (OT) was incredible and helped me progress from having a lot of pain initially to getting more active.”

After several weeks, Luis transferred across campus to Northern Colorado Rehabilitation Hospital.

Luis saw his family grow close as a result of his hospitalization and is excited to return home to them soon. He is particularly excited to go out to eat, cook (he loves making international cuisine), and, most of all, get back to hiking with his significant other.

Andrew Pacheco looks forward to returning home after recovering from a fall from his wheelchair.

Eight years ago, Andrew Pacheco sustained a spinal cord injury (T10-T12),  resulting in paraplegia. Though now in a wheelchair, the 60-year-old from Pueblo continues to live an active life. Andrew works as a maintenance tech and enjoys fishing, car shows, and spending time with his brothers, son, and daughter.

Then, one day, Andrew fell out of his motorized wheelchair. He suffered fractures to his femur and his left tibia and fibula in the fall. In need of extended hospitalization, Andrew’s daughter began researching their options. She chose Northern Colorado Long Term Acute Hospital for several reasons. First, the hospital was clean. Second, the large 6,000 sq. ft. therapy gym would benefit her father’s recovery. And the outcomes data was great, allowing her to feel confident in the care her Andrew would receive.

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Joey Gonzalez defied the odds, conquering COVID-19 pneumonia.

Family has always been important to Joey Gonzalez. As a person with down syndrome, Joey’s family has always been there to support him. They live in Alliance, Nebraska, and Joey loves to spend time with his dad and four brothers. His mother passed away a year ago, and for many years prior, Joey helped care for her. Special Olympic sports are Joey’s passion in life. His favorites are bowling, basketball, and track.

When Joey began having difficulty breathing one winter day, his father, Tony, took him to the emergency room for evaluation. Joey was diagnosed with COVID-19 pneumonia. In the hospital, Joey required a ventilator and had a tracheostomy placed. His physicians prepared Tony for the worst.

“The doctors told me he wouldn’t make it,” Tony said with tears in his eyes.

But Joey had other plans. Despite the grim outlook communicated to his father, Joey pulled through.

“He’s a miracle,” Tony tells people.

With Joey stabilized, Tony and his family began preparing for Joey’s recovery. First, they met with Joey’s case manager at the acute care hospital and reviewed their options. After doing their due diligence, the family chose Northern Colorado Long Term Acute Hospital for Joey. They felt confident in the quality of care offered at NCLTAH, and the location was perfect for Joey’s eventual return home.

As Joey’s stay at NCLTAH neared its conclusion, the family’s experience validated their decision. “The nurses and doctors were so generous and nice!” Tony reflected. “Dr. Pearson was a great advocate for Joey and made sure I could be a huge part of his care. The therapists were very good at their job, always encouraging Joey. And I loved the education I was given so I can take care of Joey at home!”

“Overall, this place is the best!” Tony added.

Joey couldn’t have been more excited as he prepared to return home. Looking forward to resuming a regular routine, Joey has one main goal: returning to the Special Olympic sports that he loves so much.

Jesse Martinez trusted both NCLTAH and NCRH with his care after suffering from a subdural hematoma and acute respiratory failure.

Jesse Martinez is 57 years old and lived in Denver, Colorado, working full-time for the city. He spends all the time he can with his family. He and his wife, Dawn, have three daughters and two grandchildren. Jesse taps into his creative side through music and used to work as a DJ. He also loves making art and enjoys watching football. He’s a huge Raiders fan.

On a day like any other, Jesse started experiencing a horrible headache. He went to an acute care hospital where they told Jesse he was suffering from a subdural hematoma and acute respiratory failure. His family chose to continue his recovery at Northern Colorado Long Term Acute Hospital.

Jesse was appreciative of the support he received from the staff. “Everybody was so positive and helpful! The housekeeping staff always made me feel at home. The doctors and nurses were so positive.”

Although he improved, Jesse wasn’t quite ready to return home. He transferred to Northern Colorado Rehabilitation Hospital to begin rehab. He was just as impressed with the NCRH staff as he was with NCLTAH. “Every staff member was so friendly and nice! I didn’t have one bad experience, and everyone always made me feel comfortable. When I went home, I really missed everyone. They were just like my family.”

Jesse discharged home in July and moved to Loveland, Colorado with his family. He is now retired, enjoying his peaceful life with his family. He’s happy to be around music again and is fixing up an old Chevy 1964.

“If it wasn’t for getting my care at these two facilities, I don’t know where I would be,” Jesse stated.

Bob and his wife Mary after recovering from COVID-19, pneumonia, and respiratory failure.

Bob Vines and his wife, Mary, have been married for 29 years and have two children. They recently moved to Cheyenne, Wyoming, where Bob works full-time as a prevention specialist. He enjoys photography, traveling, and listening to music.

After receiving his COVID-19 vaccine, Bob still contracted the virus. He also suffered from pneumonia and acute respiratory failure. Mary chose Northern Colorado Long Term Acute Hospital for his extended care. Their insurance recommended NCLTAH, and after looking at the COVID-19 patient success stories, she knew it was a good fit.

Bob required a ventilator for 23 days but progressed rapidly when he arrived at NCLTAH. Thankfully his progression allowed him to wean off the ventilator in just a few days! Because of his quick turnaround, Bob transferred to Northern Colorado Rehabilitation Hospital to continue his recovery.

“I loved how every step of the way, they set reachable goals. The staff was very supportive in helping me reach my goals. I loved Dr. Pearson. He became such a good friend during my recovery and his medical advice was fantastic,” Bob said.

Bob loved his care team and appreciated the wonderful job they did to support him throughout his stay. Knowing how much time the staff spends on their feet, Bob wanted to buy comfortable shoes for all of them. Schnee’s Footwear and Dansko donated each pair for this wonderful cause.

“The kitchen staff was awesome and engaging. The PCT’s and nurses took the time to comfort me during this hard time. I am so grateful for their empathy,” Bob explained. He is back home now and loves sitting on his front porch relaxing. He has also spent more time with his family. “I am so blessed to be alive and couldn’t do it without these amazing hospitals!”  

Richard Lewis suffered acute hypoxic respiratory failure from COVID-19 and required a tracheostomy.

Richard Lewis loves spending time outdoors doing activities like hunting, fishing, and hiking. He works full-time as a maintenance supervisor for a condominium complex. Married 41 years, Richard and his wife love to spend time with their two daughters and four grandchildren.

On Richard’s 41st wedding anniversary, he planned to take his wife to the Mount Princeton Hot Springs Resort. Their plans changed when he got exposed to COVID-19 and later tested positive. His wife had to call an ambulance because he was having difficulty breathing.

Richard doesn’t remember much from his acute hospitalization. He does remember his physicians recommending Northern Colorado Long Term Acute Hospital for their great ventilator weaning process. He had an acute hypoxic respiratory failure from COVID-19 and required a tracheostomy.

With a long road to recovery ahead of him, Richard arrived at NCLTAH. He worked hard with his care team to gain his strength back. Richard said, “All of my therapists have made therapy fun. They push me to be successful. The staff is so encouraging, and that has influenced my recovery!”

All the support and encouragement from his care team helped Richard to achieve his goals. “I love how the staff always tells me how well I am doing, it’s a real incentive for me to succeed and get home!” Richard is already seeing progress and is standing only needing some oxygen.

As Richard continues to work towards his recovery, he looks forward to returning home. He wants to focus on getting back to work and back to his hobbies like hunting and fishing. He said, “Every single staff member has been great. I can’t say enough about how great this experience has been. They are so great at what they do!”

After contracting COVID-19 and suffering respiratory failure, Amber Leach came to NCLTAH for ventilator weaning.

Amber Leach, 44, lives in Cheyenne, Wyoming. She works for the state as a data analyst and loves her job. She is very active and stays social in her community. Amber explained, “I am very blessed with a great family and friends!” She enjoys being outdoors camping, fishing, riding horses, and participating in shooting sports. She also volunteers for the Cheyenne Frontier Days. Both her brother and sister live in Cheyenne, and her parents live in Nebraska.

After attending a large wedding as a bridesmaid, Amber started feeling very tired. Later she developed a headache and fever. She contracted COVID-19 and suffered from acute respiratory failure. Her condition required a ventilator to support her breathing.

Amber chose Northern Colorado Long Term Acute Hospital to assist with her ventilator weaning. It was key that the facility was close to her home. This way, she could have the support of her friends and family nearby. She also read the great reviews that NCLTAH received on their website.

During her stay, Amber was appreciative of the care and attention she received. She stated, “The staff is amazing and so encouraging! Nursing went out of their way to meet my needs, and everyone has such a positive attitude.” She then transitioned to Northern Colorado Rehabilitation Hospital due to loving the facility and it being just down the hall. She stated, “Everyone has the most positive attitudes!”

Amber looks forward to returning home to see her family, especially her new niece and nephews. She will continue working on her goals to get back to doing what she loves, being outdoors. She said, “I’m just continuing on this uphill road and thank these facilities for all the help!” 

Ronald Mena came to NCLTAH to wean off the ventilator so he could start intensive therapy.

Ronald Mena and his wife have lived in Haxtun, Colorado for the past 14 years. Married for 33 years, they love to spend time together just enjoying life. In his free time, Ronald enjoys outdoor activities like fishing, camping, and scuba diving. 

During a bad storm one night at home, Ronald started experiencing severe chest pains and had difficulty breathing. He immediately went to the hospital, where they told him he suffered a heart attack, acute on chronic hypoxic respiratory failure, and an acute kidney injury requiring dialysis. His condition required a ventilator. 

Ronald’s physician at the hospital recommended Northern Colorado Long Term Acute Hospital. There he would receive therapy and could work on weaning off the ventilator. The staff at NCLTAH impressed Ronald right away with their patient-first attitude. “The doctors and nurses inspired me to get better! Everything NCLTAH did was wonderful. The entire experience was great!”

Throughout his stay, Ronald became close with his care team and leaned on them for support. “Dr. Pearson and I would pray together about my renal recovery and, sure enough, two weeks later I didn’t need dialysis anymore. It was a miracle!”

Because of his hard work and determination to recover, Ronald is now home after a little over two months of rehabilitation at NCLTAH. He is loving life and is slowly working back up to his normal routine. His future recovery goals include gaining more leg strength and eventually going back to work.

Ronda overcame many obstacles during her recovery at NCLTAH including acute hypoxemic respiratory failure.

Ronda Cure lives in Sterling, Colorado with her husband and two sons. She enjoys spending time with family and taking care of their animals. They have four dogs, two cats, and two chickens. Before her hospitalization, she worked full-time and kept a very tidy house.

At the age of 49, Ronda suffered from acute hypoxemic respiratory failure, sepsis, atrial fibrillation, and aortic dissection with repair. Upon arriving at the hospital, she required full ventilator support. Knowing she would need a higher level of care, her family started searching for the next step in her recovery.

They chose Northern Colorado Long Term Acute Hospital after a previous patient informed them of their great care. Being closer to home was an added benefit for the whole family. Ronda started her next phase of recovery at NCLTAH at the end of April.

Ronda stayed dedicated to her recovery and appreciated the continuous support that she received from the staff. She explained, “The PCTs and nurses were wonderful and so encouraging! Paul Eshom, RN, always believed in me and helped me to never give up! Dr. Pearson and Dr. Masotti were great and always informed me of my progression.”

After a long journey, Ronda built up the strength to wean off the ventilator. The process can be stressful especially when working back up to normal functionality. Her respiratory therapists made sure she was comfortable but moved at a pace that supported her recovery.

Ronda spent about two months at NCLTAH and saw great progress. She will only need oxygen for her return home. She looks forward to seeing her family and will continue her recovery with NCLTAH’s outpatient therapy department. Her goal is to achieve her prior level of function and believes that extended therapy will help. She states, “Thank you to all the wonderful staff. I would recommend this place to anyone!”