In the Outpatient Rehab Clinic at St. Joseph's Hospital, Marianela Daher instructed her patient to stand sideways at the cable machine and lift her arm forwards.
"Mira hacia el espejo,"
she said. Look towards the mirror.
Her patient was a Dominican-born certified nursing assistant at a local nursing home, where her work with elderly residents put strain on her shoulder. A month before, she could barely lift her arm to comb her hair. Now, the patient cycled through her therapy session with apparent ease.
Marianela says, encouraging her progress.
For nearly 25 years, Marianela has served as a physical therapist (PT) at BayCare. She arrived in Tampa Bay soon after graduating with her master's degree in physiology and kinesiology from the University of Buenos Aires in her home country of Argentina and started as a PT at Morton Plant Mease in 1996. She transferred to St. Joseph's Hospital in 1999, working on various inpatient floors before joining the outpatient team.
At the time, Marianela was the Outpatient Rehab's only Spanish-speaking PT. Years before smartphone apps made fast and reliable translations, she helped make health care more equitable for Hillsborough's Spanish-speaking community.
When she first joined the hospital, Marianela brought quick relief to many patients and therapists, some of whom relied on family members to translate and others who turned to English-Spanish dictionaries for help communicating.
"We didn't have a Google translator or anything like that at the time," Marianela said. "It was a lot of satisfaction for me to be the only Spanish speaker on the rehabilitation team. But it was a little overwhelming too because all the Spanish-speaking patients wanted to see the Spanish-speaking physical therapist."