Hospital celebrates decade in Brownsville

South Texas Rehabilitation Hospital celebrated its 10th anniversary in Brownsville with a big outdoor party on May 14, an event that also recognized the significant accomplishments of retired neurosurgeon Dr. Jose Kuri, STRH’s assistant medical director.

Kuri also celebrated his 90th birthday during the event, which drew a full house, including many local physicians, to pay tribute.

“We had invited about 250 people,” said Letty Mann, STRH director of marketing and business development. “A little over 300 showed up.”

A main conference room at STRH was also named for Kuri, she said. Although he’s retired from neurosurgery, Kuri still helps out with patients on weekends at STRH, Mann said.

“He’s very passionate about patient care and rehabilitation,” she said.

Kuri , a native of San Miguel , El Salvador , became board certified in neurological surgery in the United States in 1956 before returning to his home country. He was El Salvador ’s first neurosurgeon, serving as the dean of the medical faculty and professor of neurological sciences at the University of El Salvador .

From 1967 to 1975, Kuri served as director of that country’s social security institute and was instrumental in establishing a social security system in Central America and Panama , and expanding medical services outside El Salvador ’s capital city, San Salvador .

He arrived in Brownsville in 1975, launching a private practice in 1976 and performing neurosurgery at Brownsville Medical Center (now Valley Baptist Medical Center-Brownsville) and Valley Regional Medical Center .

Kuri , who also taught at the University of Tamaulipas in Matamoros , served as medical director of rehabilitation services for VRMC from 1990 to 2005, and since 2005 has served as STRH assistant medical director.

Leo Garza, CEO of STRH, spoke during the event, as did Jessie Smedley , national head of marketing and business development for Ernest Health Inc., which owns STRH.

Dr. Christopher Wilson, medical director of STRH, and Dr. Jumar Apolinario, outpatient medical director, also were on hand for the festivities, as was Darby Brockette , one of the founders of STRH and now CEO of Ernest Health.

Among the honorees were 26 STRH employees who have served with the institution since its earliest days, Mann said.

STRH, at 425 E. Alton Gloor Blvd. , is a 40-bed, freestanding, acute-care rehabilitation hospital offering therapy for patients suffering functional deficits due to conditions such as amputation, brain injury, joint replacement, major trauma, Parkinson’s disease, spinal cord injuries, stroke and work-related injuries.

Its rehabilitative services include aquatic, cognitive, occupational, physical and speech therapy, case management and social services, community re-entry, and rehabilitation nursing.

“We’ve also got dialysis beds, so we can serve those patients as well,” Mann said.

STRH’s aquatic therapy pool, contained within a 6,000-square-foot gym, is a game changer for many clients, she noted.

“That aquatic therapy gym has done wonders for so many patients,” Mann said. “It makes a big difference.”

She characterized STRH’s 10th anniversary celebration as a major milestone.

“It was a big deal for all of us,” Mann said.