Employee of Excellence Kristen Sanabria Turns Patient's Life Around

June 14, 2018
EOE Sanabria CL

Last year, Logan Hewett was diagnosed with Syrinx, a cyst or cavity on the spinal cord that can severely limit the use of one’s extremities.

Logan lost the ability to walk and was devastated to learn that his sports dreams would never be realized. Physical therapists in other health care systems tried to help him. A psychologist tried to help, but Logan sank deeper into depression.

Sometimes, though, the right person ends up in the right place to help. For Logan, that person was Kristen Sanabria, a physical therapist and coordinator of outpatient therapy at Rocky Point Physical Therapy.

From the first appointment, Kristen could see how despondent Logan was. He hung his head when they first met and didn’t make eye contact. He had lost hope in himself, because he had been told that with his condition, he could no longer play sports.

“This just crushed his dreams,” said Amy Hewett, Logan’s mom. “To him, his life was over. My son wanted to give up on life; he no longer wanted to live. I was worried for my son, so I had him seeing a psychologist.”

Sanabria Hewett

Kristen saw an opportunity to make a difference in this young man’s life, and she was “all in.” 

During the physical therapy appointments, Kristen took the time to engage Logan. She learned that he was a big NC State fan, and she shared her love for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Every PT session was a casual conversation about sports, and soon Logan learned to love his physical therapy appointments. The exercises were difficult and sometimes painful, but he was driven to do his very best so he would make Kristen proud.

“Kristen’s intuition and caring personality enabled her to take care of my son and start turning him around,” Amy said. “Logan wanted to stop going to his psychologist; he just wanted to see Kristen because she always made him feel special.”

During his three months of therapy, Logan had to be readmitted to another hospital. During that time they continued his therapy in the hospital, but every time the therapist left his room, Logan would say “I miss Kristen.”

At Christmas, she bought Logan an N.C. State ornament. Logan wanted to get Kristen something really special, so he got her a personalized Steelers shirt, with Sanabria on the back with the #1, because to him she was #1.

Since his sessions with Kristen, Logan no longer aspires to become a professional basketball player. Instead he wants to help other kids like Kristen helped him. He now dreams of becoming a Physical Therapist.

"Logan would not be where his is right now if it wasn’t for his amazing Physical Therapist, Kristen Sanabria,” Amy said. “There is not a week that goes by that Logan doesn’t talk about her, how cool she was and how much she believed in him.

"Kristen helped my son in more ways than one. My son wanted to give up on life, but Kristen gave him hope. I can’t thank Kristen enough for what she did.”

For going above and beyond her duties as a physical therapist, Kristen was presented the June Employee of Excellence Award by NHRMC President and CEO John Gizdic.

“When I get to share the story of how one of our great employees made a profound impact on someone else’s life, I feel overwhelming pride,” Gizdic said.    

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