Hospitality and the commitment to outstanding patient care provided by the leadership and staff at Metropolitan Methodist Hospital scored big with a college basketball coach during the 2018 NCAA Men’s Final Four in San Antonio.
Coach Greg Herenda, 57, had not been in a hospital since he was born, but during a trip to San Antonio to see the Final Four in March 2018 he encountered a life-threatening condition that kept him in the hospital for 15 days.
“I could not have picked a better place than Metropolitan Methodist Hospital,” he said. “My family and I were 2,000 miles away from our home in New Jersey, but the doctors and staff made us feel like family. I was in a bad situation and they worked hard for me. I will be forever grateful.”
Herenda is head coach of the Fairleigh Dickinson Knights men’s basketball team. The university is in Teaneck, New Jersey. He had traveled to San Antonio for the National Association of Basketball Coaches convention, held during the Final Four. His leg felt tight on the plane and then he experienced pain while walking on the San Antonio Riverwalk. He decided to sleep on the decision about whether to seek care, but the next day his leg continued to swell.
He was admitted to the emergency room at Metropolitan Methodist Hospital. Doctors performed an ultrasound of his entire body. They found two blood clots, one in his thigh and another in his abdomen.
“Coach Herenda’s condition was very serious,” said Demetrios Macris, M.D., vascular surgeon who treated him. “This size of a clot can prove fatal if it dislodges and migrates to the heart and lungs. This could have been instantly fatal.” Coach Herenda was treated with Tissue Plasminogen Activator (TPA), a drug that breaks up clots and restores blood flow, and then with oral anticoagulation medications.
Herenda also was battling a fever of 104º. “I was lying on a bed of ice for a day,” he said. “They were trying anything to break the fever. It would go down and then right back up again.”
“The hospital was incredible, and the people were awesome,” said Herenda. “I made so many new friends. The people were incredible, magical.”
“Greg Seiler, hospital CEO, came to my room and we really hit it off,” said Herenda. “Greg’s a Spurs fan and when he found out I was a college basketball coach, he came by to check on me all the time. Later during my stay, Greg reached out to Carson Cunningham, head basketball coach of the University of the Incarnate Word Cardinals, and he visited me, too. It was awesome to talk to another coach.”
Seiler also contacted Visit San Antonio and told them the story of the special visitor they had and the need for hotel accommodations for his wife for a few extra days. “They made phone calls to their hotel partners, and our San Antonio hospitality really came through when one of the hotels provided lodging for Coach’s wife for a night for her to get a shower and a good night’s sleep,’ said Seiler. “Visit SA was amazing.”
“Basketball played a part in my healing in a funny way,” said Herenda. “At the end of the day, it is encouraging to know that people care. It sounds like a cliché, but I treat every day like it’s a gift. I mean this was scary. The people at that hospital made me feel a lot of love, and they got me through it. I was where I needed to be. It was a team effort.”
Seiler said that having Herenda as a patient was a win-win situation, and he is proud of the way the Metropolitan Methodist team performed. “San Antonio has a growing reputation is a great sports town and our people are an important part of the appeal,” he said. San Antonio will host the Women’s Final Four in 2021 and the Men’s Final Four in 2025.