South Florida Hospital News
Friday June 22, 2018
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June 2018 - Volume 14 - Issue 12

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STROKE SURVIVORS SHARE THEIR STORIES, REUNITE WITH STAFF, FIRST RESPONDERS AT STROKE SURVIVOR CELEBRATION

 The room was filled with stroke survivors and their families, members of the stroke and rehabilitation teams that treated them, and first responders. All of these individuals came together for a celebration of life and to share their experiences and stories of survival on the heels of May being Stroke Awareness Month.  

 
The event hosted by Memorial Neuroscience Institute and Memorial Rehabilitation Institute of Memorial Healthcare System on May 14 also brought together representatives from seven EMS organizations including Hollywood, Davie, Hallandale, Miami Dade, Miramar, Broward Sheriff’s Office and Pembroke Pines. The first responder organizations were recognized for the collaborative partnerships developed with Memorial’s stroke team since 2014 that have led to quicker stroke treatment and better outcomes for patients. The new protocols include pre-notifications by EMS to the stroke team before they arrive at the hospital.
 
“It takes a village to effectively treat stroke and we are proud of the Memorial teamwork that has impacted countless lives through innovative protocols and EMS partnerships,” said Brijesh Mehta, MD, Neuorinterventional Surgeon and Medical Director of Stroke and Neurocritical Care at Memorial Healthcare System. “Today is about celebrating the outcomes of our stroke survivors by highlighting the care and dedication of the paramedics, hospital stroke team, and Rehab Institute.”
 
For patients, the stories resonated on a very personal level as they explained how the experience gave them a new chance at life. 
 
Noelia Gutierrez, 28, considers herself very fortunate to have been able to celebrate Mother’s Day after having had a stroke eight days postpartum in March 2017. 
 
“It’s not supposed to happen to someone young like me,” said Gutierrez, who first thought she was having a bad reaction to a sushi lunch she was sharing with her mom. “All of a sudden it hit me. I knew I was having a stroke so I was able to call 9-1-1 before I became paralyzed.”
 
Gutierrez, who works in a telehealth setting, dedicates her free time spreading the message of stroke awareness at every venue and to as many people she can. “We are all vulnerable to strokes,” she said. “We just need to be aware and educate our families to know the signs and take immediate action.”
 
For Carmen Buzquette, 84, the experiences led her to explore new beginnings.  
 
For Buzquette, her symptoms became worse in that upon Dr. Mehta’s assessment of her in the cath lab, he was not sure if she would regain her mobility regardless of the removal of the blood clot. The pre-hospital notifications by EMS gave her the advantage she needed to reduce any deficits. 
 
“I will never be the same person,” said Buzquette, who did not need rehabilitation after leaving the hospital just a few days later. “This has been a life lesson for me and I can’t begin to fully express my appreciation for everything that all of these people did together as a team for me.” 
 
For first responders and Memorial staff, the event was enlightening in many ways. 
 
“Any time we take on a training, or are a part of the development of a new protocol that can make a difference, you want to see how it impacts,” said Hollywood Fire Battalion Chief Daniel Moran. “To be able to be with patients today and see the positive outcomes, to see our stroke survivors walk and talk and live on with their lives, it’s an incredibly rewarding feeling.”
 
“Events like this are important for staff and patients and their families,” said Alan Novick, MD,  Medical Director of Memorial Rehabilitation Institute. “For patients it's important for them to see everyone involved in the full spectrum of their care so they understand what each member and component does toward their recovery. For staff it is important to see their patients and how they have evolved and improved so they can see the extraordinary work they do and continue to inspire future patients for their best outcomes.” 
 
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