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“Tough guy” actor gets tender care at VUMC

He's been a villain on "Weeds" and "Queen of the South"; he says his health care team members are heroes

by October 20, 2020

Hemky Madera

Actor Hemky Madera plays a tough guy on the USA Network’s drama “Queen of the South.” His character, Pote Galvez, is a trusted friend of the show’s lead character, Teresa Mendoza, who fled Mexico after the murder of her drug trafficking boyfriend. Madera’s character is her sicario, or hit man.

The Dominican-American actor has played numerous other tough-guy roles since the 1990s, including the one he is best known for –Mexican drug cartel criminal Ignacio in the dark comedy/drama “Weeds.”

But in real life Madera is pretty tough, too. Over the last year he’s been hospitalized at least five times at Vanderbilt University Medical Center for surgeries and procedures including the surgical treatment of diverticulitis, a perforation and infection following that surgery, and most recently, the repair of four hernias.

Madera has suffered from diverticulitis for about six years, with recurring bouts treated with a medication combination that began to cause painful burning side effects.

“The whole staff has been amazing, from the people who deliver the meals to the people who clean the room. VUMC has a wonderful staff. I’ve been thanking all of the nurses all week long.”

After he, his wife, Jesse, a songwriter, and their two children, now 9 and 3, moved to Nashville last year, he sought his health care at VUMC and was referred to Roberta Muldoon, MD, assistant professor of Surgery. She performed surgery to remove the diverticulitis from his intestines in December. He went home feeling great, but one day as he was resting on the sofa, he heard his young son crying as if he were injured. Madera jumped off the sofa to get to his son. “I felt a pop and felt instant pain.”

He ended up going to the VUMC emergency room where a perforation/leak was found and repaired.

He continued not to feel well, and several days later he developed searing pain in his upper right abdomen and a fever of 102.4. A CT scan showed infection had developed throughout his abdomen. He also developed a partial blockage in his intestines and had more surgery.

“I have to give a shout out to the nurses (on the sixth floor of Medical Center East),” Madera said, during a phone interview earlier this month from his hospital room where he is recuperating following hernia surgery.

“Every single nurse I’ve had has been amazing. They’ve taken care of me incredibly well. Doctors (Roberta) Muldoon (Timothy) Geiger and (Meredith) Duke, have been great. But really the whole staff has been amazing, from the people who deliver the meals to the people who clean the room. VUMC has a wonderful staff. I’ve been thanking all of the nurses all week long.”

He also said he is grateful for the guidance of his mother-in-law, Marie Glaser, MSN, RN, associate nursing officer for the Vanderbilt Heart and Vascular Institute. She has been “a rock,” guiding him through his health care journey at VUMC, he said.

Madera, released this week from VUMC, will resume filming the fifth season of “Queen of the South” later this month in New Orleans.

Filming for the current season of “Queen of the South” wrapped last June with much of the cast not going back to work until April, due to COVID-19. Due to his health, Madera has had a longer (15-month) break from filming.

“I’m excited about going back,” he said. “It’s been a long break.”

Movies/TV, television, Roberta Muldoon, Timothy Geiger, Meredith Duke, Marie Glaser, diverticulitis