Chris and Mike Thiemann have often been the first to arrive on the scene. But when their father, Dave Thiemann, called and said he suddenly couldn’t move his right side, they had to take a behind-the-scenes role and let the St. John’s Mercy Stroke Center take over.
Chris and Mike work in the fire service and emergency management field. After that Aug. 19 call from his father, Chris immediately dialed 9-1-1. When Mike and Chris arrived at St. John’s Mercy, they found the Stroke Team ready and waiting for their dad. “There were at least 10 physicians, nurses and other staff already assembled,” he said. “I had never experienced that kind of response in bringing patients to hospitals. It was very impressive.”
Rapid response is one of the reasons The Joint Commission has certified St. John’s Mercy as a Primary Stroke Center. The Certificate of Distinction, received Sept. 16 after an on-site review Sept. 13, recognizes the exceptional efforts St. John’s Mercy has made to foster better outcomes for stroke patients.
According to the National Stroke Association, stroke is the third leading cause of death in the United States, killing about 137,000 people each year, and a leading cause of serious, long-term adult disability. The majority, about 87 percent, of all strokes are ischemic, occurring when a blood clot blocks an artery cutting off blood flow to part of the brain. Ischemic strokes can be treated with "clot-busting" medication, called tPA (tissue type plasminogen activating factor). The catch is that tPA must be given within four and a half hours of the start of symptoms.
When a stroke call comes into the Emergency Department, the St. John’s Mercy Stroke Team is paged immediately. “We are doing everything possible to minimize the time between when a patient arrives at our hospital and when our Emergency Room evaluation is complete,” says Judd Jensen, MD, neurologist and medical director of the St. John’s Mercy Stroke Center. “In fact, our neurologist is often waiting for the patient when they arrive. This enables us to give thrombolytic therapy to eligible patients very quickly and therefore give them the best chance for a favorable outcome.”
Certified Primary Stroke Centers are held to high standards in the areas of quality, safety and patient care outcomes. The St. John’s Mercy Stroke Center has all the pieces in place to treat stroke patients. “The commitment to provide effective and efficient care extends across our organization to all members of our health care team,” Dr. Jensen said. "We are extremely proud of achieving the Primary Stroke Center designation.”
A broken blood vessel had caused Dave Thiemann to have a small stroke. He did not need tPA intervention. Today Dave has regained most of the mobility on his right side, and is expected to achieve full mobility. Mike is overjoyed about his dad’s successful recovery. “It’s the greatest story in the world to me, because he’s my dad,” he says.