Vicki Paquin, was busy cleaning her home when she heard a strange loud ringing in her left ear. She became very concerned because it was a sound she had never heard before.
“I felt my right leg buckle. My speech was beginning to slur, my right arm felt like it was just hanging there. I told my husband that I thought I was having a stroke and all I could think of was the word, FAST, the acronym related to stroke...face, arm, speech and time,” said Vicki, remembering those first fearful moments.
Her husband called 911. Help arrived within minutes...and just minutes later Vicki was at Rhode Island Hospital, which has one of the finest stroke centers in the country. As the region’s only primary stroke center located in a Level 1 trauma center, Rhode Island Hospital is uniquely qualified to provide the most advanced clinical care to acute stroke patients.
In cases of stroke, speed of treatment is critical to recovery. As you probably know, strokes are caused by blood clots traveling to the brain. The more swiftly a clot can be broken up with a drug known as TPA, the better the chance the patient has of total recovery.
In Vicki’s case, she was in exactly the right place to have the best possible outcome. Literally within minutes of her arrival, the Critical Care Unit went to work to stabilize her. She was given a CAT scan and then the TPA drug was administered.
“Eventually I was brought to the Intensive Care Unit for 24 hours of observation. I was scared but the nurses were unbelievably kind and kept reassuring me that I would be fine. I spent the next six days on the Neurology floor and then returned home. It was amazing, actually quite incredible. I didn’t need physical therapy and had no ill effects from the stroke,” said the grateful patient.
Vicki is now back at work full time and she says she is feeling great.
It is important to note that since speed is so important in the treatment of a stroke, our stroke unit treats 50% of our patients in less than 60 minutes...and that is nearly twice as fast as the national average for all hospitals.
The primary stroke center is the only program to bring together physicians, nurses, and allied professionals representing neurology, neuroradiology, neurosurgery, emergency medicine, neurocritical care, medical critical care, pediatric neurology, physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech and language pathology...and more.
How important is this program to Rhode Islanders? Hundreds upon hundreds of your neighbors and friends die from a stroke each year, with a stroke being the fifth leading cause of death in the state. This year we expect to reach the goal of treating 80% of stroke patients in less than an hour in order to decrease the amount of deaths caused by a stroke and increase the chance of full recovery among stroke victims.