All posts by Angelo Antoline

Dr. Srijana Zarkou visits Mountain Valley Regional Rehabilitation Hospital

Dr. Srijana Zarkou, Neurologist at Flagstaff Medical Center, spent an hour with our staff discussing the causes of stroke and the processes they employ for treatment in the FMC stroke group. Dr. Zarkou is a strong advocate of the rehabilitation that MVRRH provides for the stroke patients from northern Arizona and we all enjoyed the opportunity to learn more from her expertise.


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Local hospital helps Holbrook resident heal from stroke

Fifty-year-old Robert Dawson of Holbrook, Ariz., has always been an active man. A full-time physician assistant and father to eight children, he’s used to being on the go. On any given day, he could be found working, attending his children’s events, sight-seeing, traveling or doing another activity.

But things changed this past November.

“After watching television one evening, I tried to stand up from the couch, but couldn’t,” Dawson says. “Then I began slurring my speech, and I didn’t know I was.”

Dawson had suffered a stroke.

Dawson was initially treated at a local hospital and then referred to Mountain Valley Regional Rehabilitation Hospital in Prescott Valley for continued care. “The experience was great from the start,” he says, “beginning with my transport driver, Vic. After getting me to the rehabilitation hospital, Vic came by every day for the next month to check on me.”

Upon admission, Dawson was able to do very little physically. He couldn’t use his hand, and he couldn’t walk. He had trouble speaking and swallowing. “I was helpless,” he says. “I needed people to teach me how to learn to do the most basic things; it’s very difficult and humbling. But, during my stay, the hospital staff never made me feel embarrassed or humiliated. They were always encouraging.”

Dawson was cared for by an interdisciplinary team comprised of physicians, rehabilitation nurses, occupational therapists, speech pathologists, physical therapists, respiratory therapists, and other medical personnel.

“As with every patient, we worked as a team with Robert and his wife to create an individualized care plan that would bring him the best results,” says Dr. Alan Berman, Medical Director of Mountain Valley Regional Rehabilitation Hospital. “By doing this, we allowed Robert to receive the specialized care he needed so he could progress at his own pace to regain his abilities.”

Robert is one of 1,300 patients treated every year at Mountain Valley Regional Rehabilitation Hospital. The hospital is recognized as being in the Top 10% of rehabilitation hospitals in the nation for patient care. And, it has earned The Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval for its Advanced Stroke and Traumatic Brain Injury Rehabilitation programs. It’s the only free-standing acute physical rehabilitation hospital serving central and northern Arizona, treating patients who are recovering from strokes, brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, orthopedic injuries and more.

“All our patients have access to well-equipped therapy areas to aid in their healing,” Berman says. This includes a 6,000-square-foot therapy gym, an aquatic therapy pool, and a therapeutic courtyard to allow practice on different terrains such as ramps, stairs, gravel, dirt, curbs, and wood decking.

And, patients like Robert also have access to a daily living suite and a transitional suite. These areas allow patients to practice daily at-home activities while still under the supervision of a healthcare professional. Some of these activities may include getting in and out of bed, showering, cooking, or doing laundry.

“Re-learning how to do things was difficult,” Dawson says. “The first couple of days, I was pretty dizzy and tired, but everyone was very accommodating to my limitations. And, they’d explain things to me and my wife two or three times if they needed too.”

Initially, Dawson says he was frustrated by his physical inabilities, but he was constantly reassured by staff that he was going to get better. And, he did. After two weeks, he started to walk again and his speech began to improve. Eventually, he also could eat food without having it pureed first. After about 4 weeks, he returned home. He now receives outpatient services twice a week, and is working on regaining use of his left hand.

Dawson says his primary focus now is on continued healing. He walks a little every day and has been able to attend church on Sundays.

“I have to thank everyone at the hospital from the bottom of my heart,” he says. “From the people who served me food, cleaned my room and gave me baths to the therapists, nurses and physicians – they were all like angels. They helped me heal while maintaining my dignity. I felt I could trust everyone, and coming from the medical field, I know how hard it is to do this. It’s hard to create a great team, but that’s what they have at Mountain Valley Rehabilitation Hospital.”

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Congratulations to our “Of-The-Year” recipients!

At Mountain Valley Regional Rehabilitation Hospital, we have an amazing group of passionate, patient caregivers.

We are extremely excited to announce our “Of-The-Year” recipients:
Trish Grinter: Nurse of the Year
Patty Meiner: Clinician of the Year
Cathy Flynn: Employee of the Year


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Personal Commitments Improve Patient Care

Monica Durocher, a nurse at Mountain Valley Regional Rehabilitation Hospital, recalls many long nights studying as a nursing student at Northland Pioneer College in Show Low, AZ.

When I selected nursing as my major, I knew the classwork would be intense,” she says. “But it didn’t intimidate me. I was entering a field where people’s lives literally depended on me, and that’s a sobering responsibility. I knew it was my job to learn as much as I could to help my future patients. The more I could learn, the better nurse I’d be.”

After 9 years in the profession, Durocher still feels the same way. Like many of her colleagues, Durocher values the importance of staying abreast of the latest medical developments, techniques, and treatments in her field through professional continuing education.

I have to keep up with the latest medical treatments and techniques so I can provide the best care possible to my patients,” she says. “I’m committed to lifelong learning in my field – both what’s mandatorily required, and what I can add to it voluntarily.

In addition to the continuing education Durocher participates in to maintain her state nursing license, she also has voluntarily earned – and maintains — the national Certified Rehabilitation Registered Nurse (CRRN) credential. Nurses who achieve this credential demonstrate knowledge, experience, and commitment to excellence in providing comprehensive care to people with physical disabilities or chronic illnesses.

To earn the CRRN designation, Durocher met clinical practice requirements in rehabilitation nursing and passed an exam that confirmed her extensive knowledge in the field. The exam covered the scope of rehabilitation nursing practice including models and theories; functional health patterns such as theories, physiology, assessment, standards of care, and interventions in individuals with injury, chronic illness, and disability across the lifespan; function of the rehabilitation team; community re-entry; and legislative, economic, ethical and legal issues.

Deciding to pursue this certification was an easy decision,” Durocher says. “I’m committed to providing the best care I can to my patients who may have disabilities or chronic illnesses. I want to provide them with optimal opportunities so they can function to the best of their abilities. I think I do this by continually expanding my knowledge in rehabilitative care.

Along with CRRNs, some of the staff at MVRRH also is Neuro-IFRAH certified. This means that they have specialized knowledge to treat and manage adults who have suffered brain injuries or strokes. Others are certified hand therapists who focus on the rehabilitation treatment of the hand and upper limbs, which can include tendon, peripheral nerve, crush or repetitive motion injuries.


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Mountain Valley Regional Rehabilitation Hospital awarded the advanced Brain Injury Certification

Mountain Valley Regional Rehabilitation Hospital recently received The Joint Commission’s disease-specific certification for Brain Injury rehabilitation, which signifies the hospital’s dedication to developing better results for brain injured patients. The award was given after a rigorous on-site review by an expert evaluator.

This certification recognizes how committed we are to being the best at what we do in providing rehabilitation services to individuals who have experienced a brain injury,” says Judy Baum, Chief Executive Officer of Mountain Valley Regional Rehabilitation.We are passionate about continuously improving what we do and how we do it to so that our patients can regain their quality of life and return to our community. For many, it’s their only chance at returning back to family, friends and daily routines.

In the United States, brain injuries are a grim public health threat. Every year, there are 1.7 million people who suffer from brain injuries. The most common cause of brain injury is falls, which tend to happen more with children under the age of 14 or with adults older than 65 years of age. Motor vehicle accidents are the second-leading cause of brain injury. Dr. Alan Berman, Medical Director for Mountain Valley, states, “Great strides are being made in ways to prevent strokes and brain trauma. We must be equally aggressive in finding the best treatments for people who have experienced these injuries. Certification is the first step in developing the expertise that is necessary to maximize our efforts.

Certification through the Joint Commission’s Disease-Specific Care Program is voluntary and available only to Brain Injury programs in Joint Commission-accredited acute care hospitals. Certification requirements address three core areas:

  • Compliance with national standards.
  • Effective use of evidence-based clinical practice guidelines to optimize care.
  • Organized approach to measuring performance in patient safety, patient satisfaction and patient outcomes; and then consistently improving that performance.

A brain injury often is a life changing event for the brain-injured survivor and his or her family,” Baum says. “It is our privilege to serve these individuals and our obligation to achieve these high standards. This is what we are all about at Mountain Valley!


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Weekend Training Course for Therapists

Mountain Valley Regional Rehabilitation Hospital recently hosted a training course for our therapists in Post-Acute Care Management and Rehabilitation of Persons with Spinal Cord Injury. Our team spent an intense weekend improving their knowledge and skills in helping our patients recover from spinal cord injuries. Sunday at the end of the formal program, we all sat down with two former patients with spinal cord injuries for a round table discussion of their experience and how it can be applied to future patients.


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