In August, 2015, Mark McCarthy was stricken with a debilitating stroke. Mark is arguably the most popular street vendor in the city of Buffalo, providing decades of lunch, advice, gossip, contacts and more from his hot dog cart outside the Rath County Office Building. And in his off hours, Mark championed causes important to the community, including leading more than two decades of fundraising events that raised nearly $750,000 for those living with HIV and AIDS.
Mark’s stroke left the entire right side of his body paralyzed, his speech severely impaired, his ability to swallow so damaged that he could no longer eat normally. “We were concerned about his recovery. He was in very bad shape when he arrived at the hospital. And he’d had a few bad seasons that left him in financial trouble as well, so after a pretty short hospital stay we were worried about where he could go and how we’d care for him”, said his brother Joe McCarthy. And that’s when Centers Health Care entered the picture.
After a brief hospital stay, Mark arrived at the Buffalo Center for Nursing with no insurance, no Medicaid approval, no savings or other means of payment, and facing a difficult road. “We were here for Mark the same way here’s been there for many others through the years”, said Carole Francis, Administrator of the Buffalo Center.
“This case was a real challenge” according Amanda Cavese O.T., the leader of Mark’s rehab team at Buffalo Center. Working with Michele Kujawa, P.T., a plan was developed for Mark and everyone went to work. “Mark is such a motivated person” said Michele. “He was going to recover, one way or another, no matter how hard he had to work, and that kind of patient inspires everyone around him. We built a rehab plan for Mark and reviewed it almost daily, to be sure we kept him challenged but that we also kept his goals achievable”. Buffalo Center’s speech language pathologist, Teressa Monroe worked with Mark on his communications and swallowing. The therapy team worked daily with him in the gym and stopped by frequently to Mark’s room where he would be doing his “home-work” therapy. And the successes began to come.
In September, Mark was able to attend a charity fund-raising event and even managed to walk around the room with a walker and some help from the staff at Buffalo Center. Excited by his progress, Mark’s friends became regular visitors to the Buffalo Center and his dedication to working toward full recovery became even more apparent.
Mark McCarthy has recovered to the point of being able to be discharged to independent living. On December 15, he’s returning home and Carole Francis has some special parting gifts for him. “While Mark was with us, his friends launched a GoFundMe site to raise money to help Mark with the new expenses he’ll have. We’re helping by donating to him whatever durable medical equipment he’ll need to ease his transition home. We’re providing a transport chair, walker, and other personal equipment. He’ll be receiving on-going therapy at home, but he has made amazing progress and he’ll continue to improve. We’re all planning a spring time luncheon on Mark’s corner for hot dogs as soon as he’s back at work”.
Mark’s GoFundMe site is at www.gofundme.com/dp6byb8k.