Patricia Guarch makes slow recovery from crosswalk accident

Patricia Guarch in the Edgartown July 4 parade. — Photo courtesy of Jorge Guarch

The shelf life of a news story is usually about one week. But the aftermath for people involved in the story often goes on long after it is replaced on the front page with more recent news.

On July 10 The Times website reported that Patricia (“Pati”) Guarch of Coral Gables, Fla., was struck by a car while crossing Upper Main Street in Edgartown (“Struck in a crosswalk, woman is in critical condition”). She was transported by MedFlight to Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston that night and hospitalized in critical condition in the intensive care unit. Since then, several online readers have posted inquiries about her on The Times website.

This week Attorney Jorge Guarch provided The Times with an update on his daughter, who turned 22 on July 26 while hospitalized.

“Pati’s kicking and scratching with a positive attitude,” Mr. Guarch said in a phone conversation from his law office in Miami. “She still has some pretty big hurdles to overcome and many rough days to get through, but I can definitely say she’s making progress.”

Ms. Guarch remains hospitalized in Boston at Kindred Hospital, a long-term acute care facility. “We’re hoping to get her to a full-scale rehabilitation hospital within the next week or so,” her father said.

Ms. Guarch was working this summer as the digital brand coordinator for the Vineyard Arts Project, a performing arts residency program with studios located on Edgartown’s Upper Main Street. At the finish of a performance around 9 pm, she was walking with friends to the Dairy Queen, opposite the Stop and Shop. She was in a crosswalk when she was hit, they said.

Ms. Guarch was transported by ambulance to Martha’s Vineyard Hospital. She was later transported by MedFlight to Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston and hospitalized in critical condition in the intensive care unit.

The road to recovery

“The magnitude of her injuries was such that the coordination of the medical care she received in Boston was one of the most amazing things I’ve seen in my life,” Mr. Guarch said.

She underwent five major surgeries totaling about 27 hours. Doctors fused four fractured vertebrae in her neck, surgically repaired fractures of her pelvis, right clavicle and left humerus, and did substantial skin grafts on her left leg and foot. She also had a punctured lung, multiple fractured ribs, and a lacerated liver.

“On the positive side, she had no brain or spinal cord injury, so we are eternally blessed by that,” Mr. Guarch said.

Ms. Guarch still has an external fixator in place for the pelvic fracture, which also resulted in nerve damage in her left leg down to her foot. “We don’t know the outcome of her left foot because nerve damage takes a long time to heal and it may be some time before we will know how much will be permanent,” her father said. “Other than that, we’re hopeful everything else will heal and she’s going to be able to walk and function.”

Mr. Guarch said Pati is a very positive young woman, but knows she has a long recovery and rehabilitation process ahead of her. “It’s a tough road; every day’s a baby step,” he said. “Right now she’s being weaned off morphine, and it’s a horrible process.”

Mr. Guarch said that although a nephew in Boston offered him and his wife Delia a place to stay, she spends every night at the hospital as their daughter’s “roommate.”

“My wife is a school teacher, so she was able to take a leave of absence this fall,” Mr. Guarch said. “She’s not going anywhere until Pati comes home.”

Mr. Guarch practices law part-time and manages real estate operations as a founding member of and shareholder in the law firm of Aran, Correa, Guarch and Shapiro. He said he is fortunate his job allows him the flexibility to spend every other weekend in Boston.

Ms. Guarch’s boyfriend, George Azze, works in a public relations firm in Miami and has been taking every other Friday off to make weekend trips to see her. Her only sibling, Jorge, 19, is a sophomore at Auburn University. He has provided her with a lot of encouragement and support as well, Mr. Guarch said.

His daughter’s visitors over the past several weeks also included Dr. Franklin. “His lawyer had told him at first not to contact her, but Dr. Franklin reached out to us and came to the hospital and visited with Pati for a brief time,” Mr. Guarch said. “She understands it to be an accident, and we’re moving on.”

On Monday, in response to a phone message left by The Times, Dr. Franklin’s daughter, Martha Braunstein, said their family is of course very concerned about Ms. Guarch and that her father had no additional comment.

A grateful family

Mr. Guarch said his family is very appreciative of the concern shown for Pati by the Island community and the excellent care she received from emergency responders and healthcare professionals at Martha’s Vineyard Hospital.

“Those people who were on the scene are one of the aspects of the experience that we feel grateful for as a family,” Mr. Guarch said. “I want to get out to Martha’s Vineyard to see where this happened and I also want to meet some of these people to thank them in person.”

One of them is Edgartown Police Officer Nick Phelps. “He called me almost daily in the first few weeks afterwards to ask how she was doing,” Mr. Guarch said.

The car accident occurred on the last day of Ms. Guarch’s Vineyard stay, which followed her graduation in May from New York University’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study in Image Construction and Representation.

Ms. Guarch had planned to head back to Miami on July 10 for the final stages of negotiations with the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau for a print version of a blog she created. It is called “miami nice pop up” and covers local culture and arts.

“We’re very hopeful that we’ll be able to get Pati home to Miami in mid to late September,” Mr. Guarch said. “She’s wanted a dog for a long time. I can tell you that she’s had that committed to her when we get her home.”