Sally A.

Sally A.

Sally Aguiar knows how to handle severe medical situations. For more than twenty years, the Southcoast Hospital’s nurse cared for patients with critical illnesses at Charlton Memorial Hospital in Fall River, Massachusetts. So when she became sick — a pneumonia that soon left her with a constellation of troubling medical co-morbidities — it's no surprise that she confronted it head-on.

Her unfortunate journey took her from St Anne’s Hospital to Tufts New England Medical Center, where she was seen by some of the most renowned specialists in Massachusetts. Her long stay in the ICU left her with critical illness polyneuropathy and her ability to breathe on her own was so compromised, that she was placed on mechanical ventilation. Her chances of coming off the ventilator got worse when she developed ARDS (Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome). This unique, complex condition is caused by fluid that fills up the air sacs in your lungs. Too much fluid in your lungs lowers the amount of oxygen in your bloodstream. ARDS can prevent your organs from getting the oxygen they need to function, and it eventually prevented Sally from being liberated from the ventilator.

Transfer to Vibra Hospital of Southeastern Massachusetts

After a prolonged stay in the ICU, Sally was referred to Vibra Hospital of Southeastern Massachusetts. She immediately began a journey of extensive medical treatments and aggressive therapy. Sally was promptly evaluated by the Respiratory Therapy department for weaning readiness. Respiratory Therapy subsequently liberated her from the ventilator. Thereafter, she continued her acute rehabilitation, got off the feeding tube and progressed to a regular diet with Speech Therapy. She worked tirelessly with nursing and the wound care team to heal her wounds. With the support of her mother, sister, and her network of friends, Sally grew stronger, more confident and more interactive while working with Physical and Occupational Therapy.

Sally describes herself as a devoted aunt, sister, and daughter, who enjoys shopping at the Wrentham Outlets. A witty sense of humor had her Physical Therapists, Amanda Crowley and Sarah Kinch laughing along as she went about her therapy. “Sally Aguiar is a happy lady, who will do anything for her loved ones. Despite challenges and setbacks to her respiratory system, painful wounds, and persistent infections, Sally woke up each day motivated to get better. Her will to get back to her daily life and eagerness to participate in therapy is a reason why I wake up for work each day and strive to be the best that I can be," said Amanda Crowley, one of her therapists. "Her excitement with the small gains each day, while battling pain and the frustrations of critical illness myopathy, allowed her to regain her smile and spirit in the process. Sally has never been without a ‘quick story’ or a lesson, which captivated the dedicated interdisciplinary staff that saw her through this seven-month journey. It has been a pleasure to grow as a therapist as I saw Sally gain her independence back – one, hard-fought, day at a time.”

“Sally will be one of the patients that I will always remember for her medical complexity and her strong drive to increase her independence with slow-but-steady gains such as bending her knee in bed or putting her own foot on her wheelchair footrest, which was such a big deal to her and to us," added Sarah Kinch, another therapist on Sally's team. "As a nurse, she taught us equally as much as we taught her; always had the most outrageous stories, and often used these stories as humor to keep our sessions going and keep her spirits high. She let me push her to her extreme, willing to try just about anything we had come up with. I know Sally will be someone I will keep in touch with. We laughed and cried together. I worried about her deeply. Sally formed a strong connection with all the staff, including secretaries, housekeeping, maintenance, therapists, nursing – everyone she came into contact with. We bonded over her seven month stay with us at Vibra; we spoke of our families and shared memories. I cannot wait until she comes to visit walking through the hospital.”

Going above and beyond

“The team that cared for me at Vibra,” Sally recalls, “went above and beyond to make me comfortable. Lydia (referring to CNA Lydia Perreira) was so good to me. She allowed me to have my dignity. She was gentle and friendly, often reminding me that better days were coming. In the beginning, there were days I wanted to die, then, Amanda and Sarah would come in and would help me see the light at the end of the tunnel; they would make everything feel better. They helped me set goals. They would remind me that I had a loving family waiting for me. Don’t know where I would be without them.” said Sally with teary eyes. "Vibra had the expertise to help me breathe on my own again, and I will be forever grateful!"

“We have been overwhelmed by the love and support that she received from the caregivers,” says Sally’s sister

"The physician group of Dr. Nick Mucciardi was excellent. They were very humane, considerate and compassionate," Sally says. "They showed great concern about me. The nursing staff and wound care team were absolutely superb. My goal is to go back to what I love to do most, to shop, to watch my nephew play football, to be with my loving family, and to tell everyone that Vibra Hospital gave my life back. I will very happily refer everybody to Vibra Hospital”, stated Sally.