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Manuel Medrano of Laguna Vista recently suffered a heart attack – but thanks to award-winning care at Harlingen Medical Center, he is now back to fishing, enjoying life with his grandchildren, and back to work as a part-time college professor.

Mr. Medrano is very grateful for the care he received from cardiologists, cardiovascular surgeons, nurses and other health professionals at Harlingen Medical Center, saying the way they treated him is much better than he has experienced at some other hospitals.

With those experiences fresh in his mind, Mr. Medrano said he’s not surprised that Harlingen Medical Center was recently named once again as “Best Hospital” by readers of the Valley Morning Star newspaper.

“I was extremely pleased with the cardiologists, nurses and therapists at Harlingen Medical Center,” Mr. Medrano added. “I would recommend this hospital to my wife and my son as it was great.”

Mr. Medrano had a triple bypass surgery to restore blood flow to his heart following his heart attack in April.

“I’m doing great now,” he said. “I have a boat; I go fishing. It feels like I have a better heart now than I did before.”

Mr. Medrano said the doctors and staff at Harlingen Medical Center were very accessible, including Dr. Daniel Martinez who performed the coronary artery bypass surgery, and his cardiologist, Dr. Juan Garza of the South Heart Clinic in Harlingen – which was recently named “Best Clinic” in the Valley Morning Star’s “Reader’s Choice” awards.

“There’s a professional environment at Harlingen Medical Center,” Mr. Medrano said. “The cardiologists and surgeons are top-notch and they’re punctual. They tell you what they’re going to do. They told me what to expect – and they told me what I had to do. They said you will have a hard time, but we’re here to help you.”

“The staff there knows how to treat people honorably,” he added. “They don’t talk to us like a number. They don’t talk down to you. They were very respectful from the get-go.”

Mr. Medrano’s recovery from the heart attack was so complete that he was able to return to teaching two history classes at UT-RGV in Brownsville. While semi-retired now, he is well-known for his knowledge of the border area and Mexican-American history. When he’s not teaching, he enjoys life with his wife Chavela, his three sons, and three grandchildren.

“I was in good hands with the hospital, and with my family and friends,” he added. “If you have a heart condition or need surgery, Harlingen Medical Center is the place to go.”

Dr. Shereef M. Hilmy, Cardiologist and Medical Director for the Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory / Cardiology at Harlingen Medical Center, said the good experiences of patients like Mr. Medrano are the result of a “team approach” which provides very comprehensive, continuous care for patients at Harlingen Medical Center.

“The good thing is that I’m very blessed to work with a number of good partners, a team of expert cardiologists who work closely together,” Dr. Hilmy said. “All of them are exceptionally-skilled – and so the patients are always in good hands.”

“As cardiologists, we rely on a team of people in the cardiac catheterization laboratory who are superb,” Dr. Hilmy added. “The nurses, the techs – they all know what they’re doing, so it flows very smoothly and it works well … from the person who receives patients at the door, to the nurse who discharges them.”

“There is great communication; they all talk to each other, so if there is something that needs to be addressed, it gets resolved,” Dr. Hilmy added. “Communication and the skill of the team is what makes this a great place. There is a personal touch here that I don’t see at other hospitals.”

Since its opening as a new hospital for the community in 2002, Harlingen Medical Center has established a reputation for being “the heart hospital” for the South Texas area. Cardiologists at Harlingen Medical Center have received national recognition for heart treatment, which in some cases includes inserting a tiny metal device called a stent and / or a tiny balloon to open clogged arteries.

Many people in the Rio Grande Valley are in need of these treatments because of high rates of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes. Harlingen Medical Center has been ranked among the top hospitals in the country in cardiovascular care, having received the Thomson Reuters “100 Top Hospitals: Cardiovascular Benchmarks Award.”

“We have some of the most experienced cardiologists in the Valley,” said Linda Bull, Director of the Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory at Harlingen Medical Center. “We also have physicians who perform very specialized electrophysiology studies of the heart, as well as complex catheter ablation procedures and peripheral vascular procedures, including treating abdominal aortic aneurysms. And they have received recognition for using some of the most advanced technology, including the world’s smallest heart pump (the Impella® 2.5 Catheter).”

Dr. Hilmy said the Impella pump helps patients who have weak heart muscle, “by supporting the heart during an intervention, which makes it safer.”

Cardiologists at Harlingen Medical Center are continually evaluating new high-tech devices, such as new stents and new aneurysm grafts, to see if they may benefit particular patients, depending on their individual conditions.

Dr. Hilmy noted that as word spreads in the community about Harlingen Medical Center’s services, the hospital has seen the need to expand. Construction is now underway on a new emergency room – and in 2017 work will start on new cardiac catheterization laboratories for heart patients, new endoscopy laboratories to treat gastro-intestinal problems, additional operating rooms for surgical procedures, and a new radiology / imaging suite.

“This is a major expansion which will allow us to better meet the needs of our growing community, and to serve more people with the quality, compassionate and personalized type of care that our patients have come to expect from Harlingen Medical Center,” said Brenda Ivory, President and CEO of Harlingen Medical Center.

For more information on heart treatment and other healthcare services at Harlingen Medical Center, please visit