By Rudy Arispe
Growing up in Brownsville on a 10-acre farm with some 500 pigs and 1,000 chickens, it’s no surprise that Dr. Nelly Garcia Blow initially wanted to be a veterinarian.
As an adolescent, she knew she wanted to be a doctor. Although this should have been good news to her parents, they strongly discouraged her by the time she was ready to enroll in college with her sights set on a medical degree.
“My parents never even went to elementary school, though they were always big on education for us,” she said. “To them, an accomplishment would have been for their children to graduate from high school. I think it was their fear of not wanting me to fail which is why they discouraged me.”
When Garcia Blow let her high school teachers and coaches know of her dream to become a physician, they became her biggest cheerleaders.
“My principal would bring in medical students to talk to the health career students to help us bring our dreams one step closer to becoming a reality,” she said.
Garcia Blow’s independent and tenacious spirit led her to fulfill her dream. Today, she practices in-patient medicine and geriatrics at CHRISTUS Spohn Hospital Corpus Christi – Memorial. She completed her residency in family medicine and a fellowship in geriatrics within the health system. Specifically, she does consultative services for injured geriatric patients admitted to the Level II Trauma Center.
“My goal is to get you to where you were before the accident.” – Nelly Garcia Blow
“This includes anyone 55 and older–and trauma isn’t all knife and gun cases. It also can be car or water sports accidents,” she said. “I also do all the medical management for geriatrics and end-of-life care, so I meet with a lot of families.”
Last year, Garcia Blow began treating behavioral health patients, which she enjoys.
“I had the opportunity to work with Care Integrated Behavioral Health alongside the psychiatry team that provides the management for a patient’s mental health, and I manage their medical co-morbidities (which is the presence of two chronic diseases at the same time in a patient),” she said. “The goal of the program is to provide vulnerable populations with an integrated medicine service. It’s been great to help this vulnerable population manage their blood pressure or diabetes, or be of service to those who are depressed or suicidal.
“Often times, that’s a population difficult to treat because they don’t follow up. But I consider it an honor to be able to say that when I was younger I wanted to be a doctor, and now I live that dream and take care of the very people who need care the most.”
Dr. Nestor H. Praderio, medical director of Care Integrated Behavioral Health, met Dr. Garcia Blow when she did her rotations at CHRISTUS Spohn. “Since coming here, she has shown great dedication and leadership,” Praderio said. “Through the years, I continue to see her grow. She has a brilliant career in her future and will continue to shine as a member of the medical community in Corpus Christi.”
Dr. Garcia Blow spoke of a recent case in which a 91-year-old female fell in a parking lot and sustained multiple fractures. Garcia Blow was determined to do all she could to help her patient walk again.
“I always tell people, ‘My goal is to get you to where you were before the accident. If you were in a wheelchair, the likelihood of you walking again is not going to happen. But if you were walking around and going to the store or to church, let’s get you back to that.’ Now this 91-year-old patient has walked out of the rehab facility,” Dr. Garcia Blow said.
“Her practice exemplifies what we hold true as our mission—to extend to others the healing ministry of Jesus Christ. Her patient care embodies that. She is kind, caring and compassionate.” – Karen Urban
Chaplain Lynne Blackler of Memorial Hospital said Garcia Blow has a caring and calming presence about her. “She is very spiritual, which is intertwined with her caring for people,” the chaplain said. “She is also very attentive and is a great listener, whether she’s talking to a patient, staff or a family member.”
Dr. Garcia Blow’s love and concern for her geriatric patients started with her grandmother, who recently passed away at age 100, and who lived with Dr. Garcia Blow and her husband, Dr. Osbert Blow, medical director for CHRISTUS Spohn’s Trauma and Surgical Critical Care Services.
“In bad situations with geriatric trauma patients, I’ve been able to help the families have their loved ones live out their days the way they wanted,” she said. “In her final days, my grandmother asked not to be taken to the hospital. She died at peace in our home.”
Karen Urban, immediate past chair of the board of directors for the CHRISTUS Spohn Health System, has known Garcia Blow for several years as a friend and physician.
“She is one of the finest physicians in our community,” Urban said. “Her practice exemplifies what we hold true as our mission—to extend to others the healing ministry of Jesus Christ. Her patient care embodies that. She is kind, caring and compassionate.”
Garcia Blow credits her parents for instilling within her a strong work ethic, starting with those early days of working on the family farm; an ethic that, as a physician, she still practices today.
“We were up at the crack of dawn cleaning pig pens before school,” she recalled. “We loved it. Being taught to work hard was one of the greatest gifts we ever got from our parents.”