Best Practice Stroke Care: Greg's Story
Greg Misener, 58, of Stratford, was driving home from London in December 2015, when he felt something was wrong. He was exhausted, and his face and left arm were tingling. He pulled over to the side of the road for some fresh air, but when he stepped out of his van, he crumbled to the ground. He was having a stroke, a disruption in blood flow to a part of the brain. A stroke occurs when the blood vessel either ruptures or becomes blocked.
Luckily for Greg, a passerby saw him waving and pulled over to call 9-1-1.
“A stroke deprives the neurons and other brain cells of glucose and oxygen, which leads to cell death,” says Dr. Catherine Barry, General Internist. “The longer the brain is deprived of oxygen and nutrients, the higher the likelihood of permanent damage to the brain. That's why it's so important to save time by calling 9-1-1 instead of driving yourself or having someone drive you to the nearest hospital.”
After being assessed by paramedics and emergency physicians, Greg was admitted to the Stratford General Hospital Site of the HPHA.
“The Stratford General Hospital (SGH) site of the HPHA is a District Stroke Centre (DSC),” says Bonita Thompson, Interim Manager of the Huron Perth District Stroke Centre. “A DSC provides best practice acute care, stroke rehabilitation and stroke prevention services to patients. While not always a patient's community hospital, a DSC specializes in caring for patients who have had a stroke or TIA.” says Bonita Thompson, Interim Manager of the Huron Perth District Stroke Centre.
At SGH Greg recovered in the Integrated Stroke Unit which provides both acute and rehabilitative care. Greg remained in the same bed on the same floor, surrounded by the same health team throughout his recovery journey.
In the ISU, staff have specialized training in stroke recovery. The interprofessional team consists of physicians, nurses, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, speech pathologists, social workers, personal support workers, rehabilitation assistants, pharmacists and registered dietitians.
“The team on the ISU meets three times a week to review patient progress,” adds Thompson. “This means fewer complications, earlier mobilization, and continuity of care as the patient transitions from hospital back into the community.”
Greg spent just over seven weeks in the ISU. When he was ready for rehabilitation, he worked regularly with his physiotherapists, occupational therapists and speech therapist.
“I would rate the level of care as beyond phenomenal,” says Greg, who appreciated the relationships he had with both his care team and the other stroke patients. One of his favourite parts of the unit was dining with other stroke patients each day, saying, “it made me feel like I wasn't alone.”
Greg is now back at home continuing his recovery with visits from the Community Stroke Rehabilitation Team, which provides integrated, individualized care for stroke survivors in the community, and making plans to return to playing tennis this summer.
“If you or anyone you know is displaying the signs of stroke, please call 9-1-1 immediately,” concludes Dr. Barry. “Signs of stroke include drooping of the face, inability to raise both arms and slurred or jumbled speech. No matter where you live, do not drive yourself or have someone drive you to the hospital, time is brain and calling 9-1-1 is your best chance to improve your outcomes.”
Greg during the rehabilitation phase of his recovery following a stroke.