Stroke: Fast Care Gets Golfer Back on Course
Every second of a stroke kills 32,000 brain cells. Pete Woods knew that as he dropped to the ground while playing golf on the course alone. As a perfusionist who runs the heart-lung bypass machine at Saint Luke’s Hospital, he also knew if someone didn’t find him soon, he might die.
A groundskeeper soon spotted him and called for help. Pete begged the ambulance crew to take him to Saint Luke’s South Hospital, but the stroke had affected his speech, and it sounded like gibberish.
Fortunately, the crew had special training from Saint Luke’s on treating possible stroke patients. They knew nearby Saint Luke’s South had all the best treatment protocols in place and notified its Emergency Department to activate “Code Stroke.”
Par for the course
This protocol that speeds treatment is one reason stroke patients are two times more likely to return home than those treated at other hospitals in the region.
Per Saint Luke’s protocol, a neurologist, emergency physician, critical care nurse, time management nurse, and lab technicians all prepared to treat Pete. He had a clot deep in his left cortex, in an area that would dramatically interfere with a person’s ability to speak, according to neurologist Karen Arkin, M.D.
The sooner the clot-busting drug tPA is administered, the less the chances for bleeding. The drug was dripping into Pete’s vein only 52 minutes after he arrived. This protocol helps Saint Luke’s rank among the lowest rates in the nation for complications from tPA.
The next day, Pete underwent a test to measure his impairment on a stroke scale from zero (no impairment) to 32 (severe impairment). He aced the test.
“Getting a zero for stroke impairment was better than getting a hole in one,” he said.
Today, Pete’s back trying for one on his favorite golf course.