Let me introduce myself. I am Carlos Benavides. My injury level is C2-T1 Incomplete Tetraplegic. After my surgery, I was looking for a rehab hospital. My doctors told me about Rancho Los Amigos Rehabilitation Hospital and the outstanding work they do there. Let me tell you a little bit about Rancho from firsthand experience.

Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center is where patients come to receive rehabilitation after a life-altering tragedy or diagnosis. Patients come here for the first time to receive rehabilitation and life skills to help them gain independence. When they transition back into the community, they understand more about how to care for themselves, but they also leave knowing they are now a part of our extended family and Rancho becomes a second home. The reason I chose and continue to advocate for myself with my insurance company to come to Rancho was their reputation for helping patients like me gain independence, the self-esteem and the determination needed to be independent and empowered to begin my new life with a new perspective through a program called, Know Barriers!

Rancho operates on the basis of their core values: patient & family-centered care, collaboration, integrity, quality, and safety, with patient & family-centered care being the foundation. Each day, Rancho’s campus is filled not only with patients seeking medical treatment and rebuilding their lives, but also patients who dedicate their time to Rancho either by volunteering, being a part of our Know Barriers Peer Mentor Program, The Patient Advisory Council (PAC) or as career professionals who help to educate and empower.

Rancho’s Know Barriers Peer Mentor Program is a crucial integrated part of our rehabilitation program. Our Peer Mentors visit the units and speak to those who are newly injured or just need to talk to someone who truly understands, because they have been there themselves and don’t just speak the words “I understand.” Any hospital can have a counselor see you and it does help, but nothing can replace having someone come and spend one on one time with you, crying with you and letting you know what to expect, what to look forward to, and the comfort of knowing and feeling you are part of a community/family that truly understands your physical and emotional changes and will be there to push you to get to a level you never thought could be possible. Know Barriers also runs our outpatient wellness gym and resource center that provides services for both patients and employees.

The Patient Advisory Council (PAC) is co-chaired by former patients and staff members who want to help Rancho reach that next level of patient and family centered care. The PAC has been crucial to educating administration and front line staff on the things that could use improvement, and implementing many improvement projects such as the “Sleep Heals campaign” to reduce the noise at night on hospital ward floors. We have also partnered with strategic planning committees to reach out to patients with surveys to identify what matters to the patient and their families and work directly with the administration to implement and educate staff on those strategies. The PAC participates in the new employee orientation regularly. We are consulted by administration/management staff regarding the patient-centered care mission and the patient/employee handbooks.

Rancho hosts several yearly events such as: The Art Show (show casing patient art work), the Pediatric Carnival, the Performing Arts Variety Shows, the New Year’s carnival, the stroke fair, car shows, and the Spinal Cord Injury Games. Current and former patients and their families participate, as well as employees. When a patient first comes to Rancho to rebuild their lives, we are scared, anxious and uncertain that we will have a future. But when we leave Rancho we are strong, self-confident and hopeful of all the possibilities. Rancho is a place where you feel at home, and when you return for one of Rancho’s celebrations, it’s more like a family reunion than a hospital event.