UMH Welcomes New Rehabilitation Director

Mar 1, 2017 /

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In November, Uvalde Memorial Hospital welcomed Matthew Hughes as the new director of rehabilitation. Hughes now oversees physical therapy and speech therapy services, as well as the WorkSTEPS program offered by UMH.

Hughes replaced Mary Lynn Vaughn who served as the rehabilitation department director for 38 years.

Hughes graduated with a Bachelor’s of Science from Texas State University in San Marcos and went on to obtain a Master’s of Physical Therapy from Angelo State University in 2006.

Over the past 10 years Hughes has worked in multiple venues to include outpatient clinics, inpatient rehab facilities, hospital acute care settings, skilled nursing facilities, and home health. Hughes believes his vast array of positions has prepared him well for his new position.

“I wanted to work in multiple facets of physical therapy in order to gain a broad base of knowledge and experience when dealing with patients and my peers. In doing that, I think it gave me a better appreciation for the healing and recovery process and has allowed me to see multiple diagnoses and how a patient can go from being at their sickest and progress to being healthy and active. It also allowed me to work with different people and disciplines to improve a patient’s level of function and quality of life. I hope to be able to draw from all of those experiences and incorporate that into my current position,” Hughes shared.

Matthew is married to his wife of 10 years, Katie, and is kept busy by their three children, Wyatt (9), Owen (8), and Hannah (5). Together they are active in sports, school, and 4-H activities.

Growing up in a military family, Hughes moved frequently before landing in Texas where he has now lived for 25 years. Last July, Hughes and his family moved from New Braunfels to Uvalde, but were not new to the area. Katie’s mother was raised in Uvalde and they very often traveled here to visit Katie’s grandparents, long-time Uvalde residents Mary Dirksen and the late Herbert Dirksen.

“Over the past 10 years I was here for every major holiday, and I always liked coming to this part of Texas to visit family. My wife and I had been thinking of moving this way for the last 3 years for a change of pace,” Hughes said.

“I did not move to Uvalde with the expectation to take the director position. I came with the idea of starting my own independent clinic; but when I visited with Mary Lynn Vaughn over the phone and then in person, as well as the staff, and administration of the hospital, it became evident that working with UMH would be a perfect fit. The goals I had as an independent clinic owner were in-line with the goals of UMH. I hope to be able to take the foundation that Mary Lynn set over the past 38 years and build upon it,” Hughes added.

After receiving constructive feedback from current and past patients, Hughes has begun making small changes to the UMH rehabilitation department. Office hours have been expanded to better-fit patients’ schedules. Early morning appointments, before 8AM, and late afternoon appointments, until 5PM or after, have been incorporated into the team’s schedule.

“We have rolled out the hours on select days, and at the patients request to see how the community responds,” Hughes said.

“Additionally, we want to set a standard of being able to process and schedule new referrals within 48 hours of receiving them from a physician, to get the patients in quicker, and help them get on the road to recovery faster,” he added. “We are also being sensitive to the overall cost to the patient, and our department is working closely with the business office to ensure the patients have access to receiving our services.”

Hughes is already enjoying his new venture at UMH and continues to have a passion for his career.

“It is a rewarding career. I like helping people, and this job allows me to be hands on. I also like educating the patient on their diagnosis so they have a better understanding of what they are up against, how a physical therapist can help them through it, and then educating the patient on their progress so they see the results in real time,” Hughes said.

The UMH rehabilitation department provides evaluation and treatment of deficits for all age groups, involving ambulation and other forms of mobility, upper and lower extremity dysfunction, strengthening and endurance, and the use of assistive devices. The department offers speech-language pathology services to include swallowing disorders. Pre-employment testing and worker’s compensation evaluation services are also available. For more information on services or to make a referral, please contact the rehabilitation department at (830)- 278- 6251 extension 1621.