Sam Karas Acute Rehabilitation Center at Natividad Medical Center

  • September 15, 2013

SALINAS, CA (September 15, 2013) The Sam Karas Acute Rehabilitation Center, located at 1441 Constitution Blvd. Building 100 at Natividad Medical Center in Salinas, is a comprehensive and interdisciplinary inpatient unit. Medical care is directed by a physician specially trained in rehabilitation medicine. “We believe that Sam Karas Acute Rehabilitation Center is the best choice for acute rehabilitation in Monterey County,” said Betty Jo Ross, Clinical Liaison. “Dedicated to hope, healing and recovery, the center is designed to assist patients and their families with the transition from an acute crisis setting such as hip fracture or heart surgery to home. Our patients receive daily physician visits to help ensure medical stability and optimal functional recovery in order to help achieve a high level of functional independence to return home safely and with confidence. In addition to daily physician visits the patients are cared for 24/7 by nursing staff with special training in rehabilitation nursing.”

In honor of National Rehabilitation Week September 15 – 21, learn how life can change in just a minute and why rehabilitation is critical through a Sam Karas Acute Rehabilitation Center Patient Success Story:

Terry and Wendy Frerekson Patient Success Story:
Life can change in a minute. Just ask Terry and Wendy Frerkson. When they took off after church for a Father’s Day motorcycle ride and lunch in Morgan Hill, the Sam Karas Acute Rehabilitation Center at Natividad Medical Center certainly wasn’t on their minds. Terry was an experienced rider. He and Wendy had been involved for over 10 years in a Christian motorcycle ministry, and they rode frequently – Terry driving, Wendy riding on the back. But that day’s ride turned out to be anything but routine. A horrific accident slammed Terry face-first into the back of an SUV and catapulted Wendy almost to the center divide. Miraculously, Wendy was able to walk away with a few cracked ribs, but Terry had to be airlifted to a trauma center in San Jose. His spine was severely damaged, as was his left eye socket. After ten hours in surgery and days in the hospital, days, he was medically stable and ready for transfer to his own hometown rehabilitation center, Sam Karas, the only Medicare-certified acute rehabilitation center in Monterey County.

The Center is a comprehensive and interdisciplinary inpatient unit. Medical care is directed by a physician specially trained in rehabilitation medicine. Daily medical physician visits ensure medical stability and optimal functional recovery.

From the time Terry arrived at the Center, he said, “The care was excellent. Everybody there had such a good attitude. They were there for us.” He knew the road ahead wasn’t easy, but he also adopted a positive attitude, drawing strength from the Center’s staff and his faith in God. The three hours of daily therapy were difficult and painful, but the staff’s constant encouragement and enthusiasm helped him persevere. He remembers thinking, “If they’re not pushing me, they’re not doing their job.” He adds that the staff’s joking and banter kept his spirits up: “It was the laughter and fun we had that got us through the pain.” According to Steve Jackson, Operations Consultant, the twice-daily therapy routine is tough, but it’s designed to get patients ready to go home quickly. And in just two and a half weeks, Terry was headed for home with a comprehensive discharge plan to continue his recovery.

That’s not the end of the story, though. Wendy drove daily to San Jose to visit Terry and she was by his side during rehabilitation. Not long after his discharge, she noticed she was having trouble getting dressed and driving. She went to her doctor, who diagnosed a slow bleed from the accident that was gradually putting more and more pressure on her brain. She had emergency surgery to relieve the pressure, then it was her turn to visit the Sam Karas Acute Rehabilitation Center. She and Terry joked with the staff that, “We liked it so much that Wendy had to come in so we could hang out with you guys a few more days.”

Wendy was released after just a week and although they both have quite a bit of healing still to do, the couple is expected to make a full recovery. Their story isn’t unusual. The Sam Karas Acute Rehabilitation Center has a high success rate. With expert staff supervision, patients practice everything from using the stairs to using the bathroom and kitchen. Those who enjoy gardening are encouraged to “dig in” on the outdoor patio, too.

Jackson says they emphasize keeping the patients out of bed, busy, and engaged. He says depression is one of the biggest challenges facing someone recovering from an accident. To help keep patients’ spirits up, they’re encouraged to take meals in the communal dining room and there are game nights and movie nights. The staff’s compassion is clear – Jackson says his job there is “definitely the most rewarding” he’s had, and the rest of the medical professionals share his dedication. Nobody plans to need rehabilitation, but it’s great to know that the Sam Karas Acute Rehabilitation Center stands ready to help at Natividad Medical Center.

About Natividad Medical Center
Based in Salinas, Calif., Natividad Medical Center is a 172-bed, acute-care hospital providing health-care services to the Monterey County residents for more than 127 years. Owned and operated by the county, NMC offers inpatient, outpatient, emergency, diagnostic and specialty medical care. NMC provides more than 34,000 patient days each year and more than 47,000 emergency department visits per year. NMC is ranked No. 1 in newborn deliveries in Monterey County. It is the only teaching hospital on the Central Coast, through its affiliation with the University of California, San Francisco. With a medical staff of more than 228 physicians, Natividad’s mission is to continually improve the health status of county residents through access to affordable, high-quality health-care services. For more information, please call 831-755-4111or visit