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Surviving a stroke: Quick action, treatment make the difference

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Richard Dalyai, an endovascular neurosurgeon at Vidant, right, talks to Jennifer Holley, a patient he operated on. (Molly Mathis/The Daily Reflector)

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By Tyler Stocks
The Daily Reflector

Friday, October 12, 2018

When a stroke strikes, quick action and the right treatment can mean the difference between life and death.

Just ask Jennifer Holley.

Holley, 29, took a pain pill after dinner on July 26 for a pounding headache, thinking it was a migraine. However, when she woke up the next morning her face was drooping and her speech was slurred. The Creswell resident knew something was seriously wrong.

Holley’s husband took her to Vidant Chowan Hospital in Edenton, where she underwent a CAT scan. The scan showed Holley had experienced a stroke. She was airlifted to Vidant Medical Center for emergency surgery and further evaluation by a stroke team.

“It was just shocking and I couldn't comprehend it because I don't have any family history of high blood pressure or anything like that, so there's nothing that made me think I could possibly have a stroke when I'm 29 years old,” Holley said. “I'm just thankful and so amazed because my husband is a school teacher and if it wasn't the summertime, he might not have been home to take me to the hospital.”

Holley shared her story on Thursday morning after officials announced that Vidant Medical Center had received The Joint Commission's Gold Seal of Approval and the American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association's Heart-Check mark for advanced certification for comprehensive stroke centers.

“This designation establishes us as the region’s only comprehensive stroke center,” said Dr. Richard Dalyai, an endovascular neurosurgeon with Vidant Neurosurgery. “We are the first to receive this in eastern North Carolina and it’s a testament to the care we provide every day.

“This designation means we are among the best across the nation, which is tremendously important for the communities and patients we serve,” Dalyai said.

Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in North Carolina and 90 percent of eastern North Carolina counties have a stroke death rate higher than the national average. According to the American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association, on average, someone suffers a stroke every 40 seconds; someone dies of a stroke every four minutes and 795,000 people suffer a new or recurrent stroke each year.

Common symptoms according to Stroke.org include numbness or weakness of face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body, confusion, trouble speaking, or understanding, trouble seeing in one or both eyes, trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination, and severe headache with no known cause.

To be eligible for this certification, hospitals must demonstrate compliance with stroke-related standards as a primary stroke center and meet additional requirements, including those related to advanced imaging capabilities, 24/7 availability of specialized treatments and providing team members with the education and competencies to care for complex stroke cases.

"By achieving this advanced certification, Vidant Medical Center has thoroughly demonstrated the greatest level of commitment to the care of its patients with a complex stroke condition,” said Dr. Mark R. Chassin president and CEO of The Joint Commission. “Certification is a voluntary process and The Joint Commission commends VMC for successfully undertaking this challenge to elevate the standard of its care for the community it serves.”

Brian Floyd, president of Vidant Medical Center said he was elated about the certification and reiterated Vidant's commitment to excellence.

“Vidant Medical Center is thrilled to receive advanced certification from The Joint Commission and the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association,” Floyd said. “This certification underscores both our commitment to excellence and dedication to the health and well-being of eastern North Carolina.”

The Joint Commission, the nation's oldest and largest standards-setting and accrediting body in health care. The Joint Commission founded in 1951, accredits and certifies more than 21,000 healthcare organizations and programs in the United States.

Established in 2012, Advanced Certification for Comprehensive Stroke Centers is awarded for a two-year period to Joint Commission-accredited acute care hospitals.

Contact Tyler Stocks at tstocks@reflector.com or 252-329-9566. Follow him on Twitter @TylerstocksGDR

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