Left to right: Thomas Ferrarone, physical therapist assistant; Susan Quash-Mah; and Jennifer Sanders, occupational therapist assistant

By Susan Quash-Mah


I came to Valley West Health Care Center in Eugene, Oregon, after a one-day procedure did not go as I anticipated, and I had to have emergency open-heart surgery.


In addition to the open-heart surgery, my already compromised kidney function virtually stopped (for a while), and I was receiving dialysis even before I awoke from the induced coma after the surgery.


When I arrived at Valley West, I had regained my ability to swallow and talk. Otherwise, my physical abilities were virtually non-existent. So, as soon as I arrived, staff members from many departments came and talked with me about the services available and asked about my needs. Because I eat a very modified diet, the listening and caring demonstrated were calming and reassuring.


Right away, I began to receive physical therapy and occupational therapy to help me regain my strength, coordination and eventually mobility. The team of therapists, as well as the nursing and CNA [certified nursing assistant] staff, were instrumental in teaming with me to reach my goals and theirs for me to be able to return home.


Slowed by a bout of pneumonia, my progress during the first two weeks of my stay was extremely slow. I remember talking with several of the therapy staff more than once about not giving up on me, and I was assured verbally and by their ongoing support and encouragement that they were committed to me and my being able to return home.


By the Fourth of July, I was beginning to be able to stand from my bed, and over the ensuing four weeks began walking – a short 47 feet the first time. By the third week, I was using a walker to walk outside and working on stamina, balance and coordination. I had also been coached about and began dressing and grooming myself.


Because of the dedicated and ongoing support, guidance and professional expertise of the therapy staff, I was able to go home early in August.


I’ve experienced outpatient physical therapy in the past, and I am so grateful to the people at Valley West for all they have done to get me where I am now. I will continue to need home health support to fully regain my ability to walk, drive my car and fully engage in the activities I love – like water exercise, gardening and visiting with friends.


Thank you to everyone who has worked as a team to help make recovery possible.