November 15, 2008
Victoria Brady was fortunate to have Venice Regional Medical Center's resources - and its talented doctors - when she suffered a massive stroke.
It goes without saying that no one wants to have a stroke; it's a lifechanging event we all hope to avoid. Nevertheless, when Victoria Brady suffered a massive stroke in late August, she was fortunate in one respect. She couldn't have been in a better place. She was at Venice Regional Medical Center, with a nurse in the room and her neurologist just down the hall.
Mrs. Brady, a longtime resident of Venice, had come to the hospital the day before when she started having troubles with her speech and vision. An MRI revealed a blockage in her left carotid artery - one of two main arteries in the neck - that was reducing the flow of blood to her brain. Her physicians decided she should stay overnight while she received blood-thinning medication.
In spite of the anticoagulants, Mrs. Brady had an acute stroke the next morning that left her unconcious, unable to speak, and unable to move the entire right side of her body. Fortunately, her neurologist, Juliette Coleman, M.D., was just down the hall. "When I saw she'd had a stroke, I called my colleague Dr. Reiheld and said we had to treat her immediately."
An interventional radiologist, Craig Reiheld, M.D. performed carotid artery angioplastry, placing stents to hold open her dissected artery, and administering medication directly into her arteries to dissolve the clot that had developed in her brain.
The procedure, which took more than four hours, was begun within minutes of her stroke - and with stroke victims, every minute counts. Afterwards, her recovery was nothing short of miraculous. By the next morning she could move her fingers; in a few days, she had recovered the majority of her functions.
Explains Dr. Coleman, "When you're prepared - prepared for stroke patients, and prepared for emergencies - you can do a lot of good. The earlier a patient comes in, the better; and in Mrs. Brady's case, everything just fell into place. She was already at the hospital, we were all familiar with her chart, not a moment was lost - and we saw amazing results."
Drs. Coleman and Reiheld - both of whom have advanced training in their fields - agree that VRMC is a great place for stroke patients because of the medical talent it attracts. "Venice is such a pleasant place to live that it really draws the cream of the crop," says Dr. Coleman.
In addition, the hospital is currently undergoing a rigorous certification process to become a designated stroke center. "It means we have a whole team of physicians and staff working together to mobilize rapid emergency care for stroke victims," explains Dr. Reiheld.
Now undergoing physical, occupational, and speech therapy, Mrs. Brady is feeling vastly better. "She's doing so well," says her husband Don, "and we were very pleased with our experience at VRMC." Adds Mrs. Brady, "Dr. Coleman and Dr. Cogburn, my primary care physician, really took the time to explain what was happening - first to my husband and children, and when I was better, to me."
In a few days, Mr. and Mrs. Brady are looking forward to seeing all four of their grown children for the first time since her stroke, who will find their mother remarkably improved. While having a stroke wasn't lucky, the outcome certaintly was - thanks in large part to Venice Regional Medical Center and its talented physicians.