Ines' Story

A slightly smiling Ines poses for a picture with her daughter in her hospital room.

Mother and daughter reunited – thanks to Select

Ines Rivera was at home when she began stumbling and slurring her words. Her daughter, also named Ines, feared a stroke and dialed 911.

An ambulance rushed the Ines to a local hospital, which then transferred the 74-year-old to the intensive care unit of a larger medical facility. There, doctors diagnosed multiple hematomas (blood-filled bruises) on both sides of the brain. She hadn’t fallen, and no cause could be determined.

Rushed into surgery, Ines underwent a craniotomy, during which a small portion of the skull flap was removed to release pressure on her brain.  Afterward, she fell into respiratory failure and was placed on a ventilator, along with a feeding tube. Additional surgeries to remove the hematomas left her completely unresponsive. Jose was told there was not much hope.

Yet Jose and their family, as well as her neurosurgeon, remained optimistic. He recommended Select Specialty Hospital – Milwaukee St. Francis for its experience treating medically complex patients.

Ines arrived in late June, unable to breathe, speak, eat or move independently. A physician-led team, including nurses and therapists, created a plan to give her a chance at recovery.

Respiratory therapists began monitored bursts of time off the ventilator and dialed back settings to gauge whether Ines’ lungs were healing. Speech and respiratory therapists coordinated valve placement in her airway support, permitting more normal speech.

As Ines regained consciousness, therapists reached out to the neurosurgeon and received permission to begin physical and occupational therapy. The team deployed a mobility program, helping her sit in bed, move to its edge and into a chair.

Dietitians calibrated Ines’ tube feeding formula to promote healing and meet her nutritional needs, monitored labs and adjusted the mix for renal and insulin changes. Pharmacists guided her transition from intravenous to oral medication.

 Speech therapy then guided mouth, tongue and jaw exercises to reestablish the swallow reflex, and led cognitive exercises to restore mental clarity.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, in-person visitation was temporarily restricted. The team ensured Ines could call Jose and her daughter, also named Ines, every day. When restrictions lifted, her daughter was a frequent visitor.

In just under a month, Ines was ready for the next phase of her remarkable recovery. With the help of case managers, she was admitted to an inpatient rehabilitation hospital with a specialized brain injury program.

When they were leaving, young Ines expressed the family’s gratitude to everyone at Select Specialty Hospital – Milwaukee St. Francis for never giving up on her mom.