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Patients Overcome Obstacles on Journey to Recovery

From the emergency room to outpatient rehabilitation, some patients travel through a diverse range of medical services while on the road to recovery. Often the journey is a long and weary process that tries even the strongest and most determined individuals.

Roger Tucker, 54, and Benny Latino, 76, are two such patients. They suffered entirely different life-threatening illness and injury, but through perseverance, hard work and positive attitudes – guided by committed health care teams – they share the path to recovery that allows them to enjoy their lives to the fullest today.

Earlier this year, Roger Tucker was at his mailbox when a pickup truck hit him from behind, tossing him 30 feet and causing fractures to his ribs, pelvis, patella, tibia and shoulder. He also suffered a punctured lung and lacerated spleen.

Although he doesn't recall the hours immediately following the accident, the Tickfaw resident was treated at North Oaks Medical Center’s emergency room, and spent 11 days in acute inpatient therapy and nine days in North Oaks Rehabilitation Hospital’s Comprehensive Medical and Rehabilitation (CMR) unit. He continued outpatient care three times a week for months which he is now able to continue from home.

Tucker praises the North Oaks staff for their compassion and “tremendous” support - even during the pandemic - as he fought to recover fully.

“They showed genuine concern and wanted to help in any way they could,” Tucker shares. “It was a difficult but positive experience because of the way I was treated. They set up my pathway to recovery and I am forever grateful for those incredible people.”

Today, he is optimistic and looking forward to transitioning back to his full-time job with a global oil and gas company in addition to enjoying future recreational activities.

When Latino suffered a massive stroke, he was given only a 50% chance of survival.

He wasn’t expected to walk or talk again but now you might catch him attending daily church services, having breakfast at a local eatery or riding his golf cart around the Southeastern Louisiana University campus.

“I was brought to North Oaks and stayed in a coma for 2. days and remained in the hospital for more than two months,” recalls Latino who ran a popular downtown Hammond bar for more than 50 years. “When I woke I couldn’t speak a word or even stand.”

Following his discharge from North Oaks Medical Center, he received more intensive inpatient therapy at the rehab hospital’s Comprehensive Medical Rehabilitation unit and endured weeks of outpatient physical and occupational therapy. He suffered from severe expressive aphasia and apraxia of speech – he knew what he wanted to say but couldn’t “find” the right words and could not make his mouth move the way he wanted.

Like Mr. Tucker, Mr. Latino praises everyone from the front line staff to President/Chief Executive Officer Michele Sutton for providing a positive environment for healing.

“The nurses, doctors and everyone were really good to me. The speech therapists were unbelievable. We’re all good friends now and they come to visit me at the bar or sit with me at a Southeastern baseball game,” he reveals. “I wanted them to see me walk. I’m a very stubborn old Italian, and thank God I am because it really helped me.”

Latino admits that in addition to the professionalism and compassion of his care team, a patient’s attitude is also critical to a successful recovery. His positive outlook even led him to participate in a stroke support group and become a cheerleader for other stroke patients during their recovery process.

“People get so down they just want to quit. Please don’t quit. Keep going. Keep going,” he urges.

The North Oaks team is proud to have been part of the healing journey for both Mr. Tucker and Mr. Latino. From diagnosis to acute care to rehab to recovery, if you need us, we are here for you.