February 11, 2020

Striving for the Best: Stroke Survivor Karen Croom

Karen Croom stroke survivorBy Jason Schneider

When Karen Croom awoke one Thursday morning in January and called her husband, he realized something was wrong. “He said that my speech was slurred, that I couldn’t talk,” Croom said.

Croom had planned to take her grandson to some appointments that day, and her husband asked her to wake him up and put him on the phone. It was her grandson who called 911. Croom, who lives in Glenwood, was taken to Mission Hospital McDowell.

“After that, everything was sort of blurry,” Croom said. “I couldn’t communicate. I could communicate by writing, but I could not communicate by talking. It was about six days before I could actually speak.”

A Meticulous Process

Mission Hospital McDowell recently obtained Advanced Disease-Specific Care Certification as an Acute Stroke Ready Hospital (ASRH) from The Joint Commission and the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association.

“Stroke certification means that our hospital strives to provide consistent, standardized, up-to-date care for the evaluation and treatment of both ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke patients,” said Brooks Stewart, MD, an emergency department physician at Mission McDowell Hospital. “The certification should serve as a symbol to the community of our hospital’s commitment to this patient population.”

To achieve that certification, which is for a two-year period, hospitals must meet specific standards that improve outcomes for stroke patients. It also includes an on-site review by The Joint Commission, as well as ongoing requirements, such as participating in an Intracycle Monitoring conference call at the end of the first year to confirm continued compliance and regularly submitting data to The Joint Commission.

“Many nursing leaders, led by Angie Pettus, prepared over a year for our stroke certification. Among other things, this involved additional stroke education for our core stroke team, as well as ensuring consistent up-to-date education for all nurses and providers who care for our stroke patients,” said Dr. Stewart.

“The actual site visit by The Joint Commission occurred in February this year and was a day-long visit by two surveyors, including a stroke neurologist. The visit entailed multiple chart audits and a tracer, in which the surveyor traced the path that a stroke patient would take, visiting with and interviewing hospital staff and providers about our processes,” said Dr. Stewart. “The surveyors were impressed with our level of commitment to our stroke program and particularly impressed with Angie Pettus, who is the manager of our stroke program, and with Leah Frady, who is our nursing leader in charge of education.”

“Just Excellent”

Croom was in Mission Hospital McDowell for six days. “The treatment was excellent,” she said. “I got excellent care.”

Croom went to outpatient rehabilitation at Mission Hospital McDowell twice a week for two months, taking speech and occupational therapy. She said she feels fine now, and is driving and doing other activities she enjoyed before. The only lingering effect of the stroke is that sometimes she has trouble putting her thoughts into words. “Sometimes my thought pattern doesn’t come out like I want it to,” she said.

As for the care she received at Mission Hospital McDowell, Croom couldn’t be happier. “I can sing praises for everyone,” she said. “From the time I went in the door until the time I left, they were just excellent.”

Advanced Stroke Care

With Mission Hospital McDowell being an Acute Stroke Ready Hospital, stroke patients — such as Croom — will see even greater outcomes.

“The commitment to maintaining stroke certification improves patient care by ensuring that our institution is delivering standardized, modern, evidence-based care to every stroke patient that we see,” said Dr. Stewart.

“Being an ASRH means that the people of McDowell and Burke counties can receive the latest, up-to-date stroke care at their back door,” said Dr. Stewart. “In addition, with our affiliation with Mission Hospital, which is a Comprehensive Stroke Center, the Mission Health system can provide the most advanced stroke care available to any of our patients at any time.”

Is it a Stroke? BEFAST
With stroke, time is critical for treatment and recovery. Recognize the signs of stroke and call 911 immediately:
Balance: Is there a loss of balance?
Eye: Is there a loss of vision in one or both eyes?
Face: Is the face uneven? Does one side droop?
Arm: Is one arm weaker or hanging down?
Speech: Is speech slurred or difficult to understand?
Time: Call 911 immediately!

Mission Hospital’s Stroke Center offers highly effective treatments that can limit damage to the brain and body during a stroke. To learn more, visit missionhealth.org/stroke.

Brooks Stewart, MD, is an emergency department physician at Mission McDowell Hospital.

Mission Hospital McDowell serves Marion and the surrounding North Carolina mountain communities of McDowell County and offers comprehensive services, including primary and specialty care. For more information about services at Mission Hospital McDowell, visit missionhealth.org/mcdowell.