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Bringing patients back from the brink

Patients, hospitals honor therapists, caregivers

Posted: November 17, 2008 8:57 p.m.
Updated: November 18, 2008 12:00 p.m.

Tammy Chew, an occupational therapist at Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital, helps Charlie Chang regain strength in his left leg so that he can walk again. Chang suffered a stroke in January that paralyzed his left side.

 
Charlie Chang suffered a stroke in January that paralyzed his left side.

He spent nearly two months at Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital under the care of nurses and doctors who monitored his conditions until his release at the end of February.

A team of occupational and physical therapists pushed him to work through the pain so he could move his arms and walk.

He continues to undergo outpatient treatment with the therapists.

Chang, 53, can walk up the stairs in his two-story house in Saugus.

"It's huge," he said.

As a result, Chang is thankful to the therapists who continue to encourage him.

"I know it's their job, but the therapists I had are special," he said. "They do it with a lot of passion. They want you to succeed."

Tammy Chew, an occupational therapist at Newhall Memorial, credits Chang's motivation.

"It's not us," she said. "It's him."

Chew, 49, works with Chang so he can use of his left arm. Now, he can cook and cut vegetables because of the treatment.

On Friday, Chang and dozens of other Newhall Memorial patients had a chance to offer their gratitude and thanks to the staff at Newhall Memorial as part of the hospital's "Healthy Homecoming" event.

"I'm happy to have the opportunity to thank everyone who helped me," he said.

Chang was one of four patients who took the stage to share their stories with more than 150 people in the audience.

But Chang found it difficult to communicate the importance of what the therapists have done.

"How can you thank the people who helped you get your life back?" he said.

Glenn Dabatos, program director of the Acute Rehab Unit at Newhall Memorial, said Friday's event represents what Newhall Memorial does.

"We can be in any business," he said. "But what's great about health care is that you connect with people."
He said it's not just the money that gets people into health care.

"We try to give them back part of the life they've lost," he said.

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