Team Mexico brings smiles and care to patients at city hospital

IOANNIS PASHAKIS/Sun-Gazette Angel Martinez, Mexico Regional Champion, shakes hands with Barry Adams, of Hillsgrove, during a meeting with the team on the orthopedic rehab floor of the UPMC Susquehanna Williamsport Regional Medical Center Friday morning.

Patients healing from recent orthopedic surgeries at UPMC Susquehanna were surprised by the 13 smiling faces of the Mexico Regional Champions on Friday.

The Little Leaguers from Matamoros, Mexico, shook hands and shared smiles with patients on the hospital’s orthopedic rehab floor with the hopes of helping along their recovery.

“I hope it will help them with motivation and make them feel better,” said Saul Cortez, outfielder for the team. “It’s very nice that the teams can do this and talk to the patients and just be with them.”

The hospital has had other teams visit patients in past years and Tyler Wagner, manager of communications at UPMC Susquehanna, said the patients always appreciate the time the kids take to visit them.

“It’s really good for the patients because happiness and positivity is something that really goes to great lengths in the healing process,” Wagner said.

Players moved among patients, shaking hands and speaking to one another the best they could. When language was an issue, the team’s translator would help make things easier.

“I hope they know we really appreciate this. It brings up your spirits,” said Anne Bauman, who was visiting the hospital for a knee surgery.

Bauman was overjoyed by the visit, which happened to be her second time having the opportunity to meet a Little League team playing at the Series.

“I was here two years ago with my other knee and I met the Australian team,” she said.

Before meeting with the patients, Jeff Feerar, a physical therapist working with the patients, spoke to the team about what each of the people they would be speaking with were recovering from. Feerar said the staff also benefits from the visits and look forward to it every year.

“It’s fun for us. The folks here were all excited when we told them the team was coming,” Feerar said.

Wagner added that the teams first began visiting the hospital in 2013 and that he hopes the kids can take away something from them as well as the patients.

“It’s nice when we can bring the kids from around the world in and give these kids something to give back too as well,” he said.