Achievement award for quality care

Saint Louise Regional Hospital’s Primary Stroke Center was honored Wednesday by the American Heart Association for excellence as the hospital earned the Stroke Gold Plus Quality Achievement Award. Stroke survivors who got care at Saint Louise, some who received injections of the stroke wonder drug, Alteplase, were there to hug and reminisce with the nurses and doctors who saved their lives.
“I had a stroke that paralyzed my left side and thankfully for my family; they got me here on time,” said Frederick Heidler, a stroke survivor who received care at Saint Louise. “They gave me the tPA (Alteplase) that diminished a lot of my paralysis.”
“There are 15 measures that a hospital has to meet to get this award and they’ve done it for two years,” said Elaina Gunn, Regional Director for the American Heart and Lung Associations. “For all the patients at Saint Louise who received Alteplase, 75 percent received it in 45 minutes, which is nothing short of impossible.”
Saint Louise’s rate of using Alteplase, an injection that works by dissolving blood clots which improves the flow of blood into the part of the brain that’s deprived of blood during a stroke, bests the national average of use by 15 minutes. Before becoming a primary stroke center, victims needed to be shuttled to San Jose, causing a delay in care.
“Those minutes when you’re having a stroke are essential in getting the help you need,” Lori Katterhagen, Chief Executive Nurse at Saint Louise said. “When we had the opportunity to become a Primary Stroke Center, we moved on it quickly.”
With an emphasis on speed, Saint Louise uses telemedicine, high-definition video conferencing used to rapidly connect with a neurologist, who can help make a rapid decision to inject Alteplase.
“It was traumatic,” said Heidler, who woke up one day in April with stroke symptoms in a home he shares with his parents.
“He called from inside the house,” said Heidler’s mother, Stella Craig. “So I jumped out of bed, threw on my clothes and we got him here in 11 minutes from Morgan Hill on Watsonville Road. They got him in the emergency room immediately.”
Now recovering, Heidler has lost more than 25 pounds and worked to manage his diabetes.
“I cannot give enough praise to Saint Louise,” Craig said. “A doctor from Los Angeles interviewed him right from the bed. It was fascinating.”
Lucretia Altamirano-Santana was another stroke patient who received care at Saint Louise.
“I’m doing a lot better today than I was doing that day,” Altamirano-Santana, 53, said, who woke up one morning in April 2014 and suffered a stroke. “My grandson Jayden did everything I asked him to do. He got the ball rolling to save my life.”
“They fought very hard to save my life,” Altamirano-Santana said. “I fought very hard to live too, so hard I broke a bed here.”
These days, with the help of her husband Mike Santana and her friends from the therapeutic pool program at nearby Fritter, Schulz, and Zollinger Physical and Occupational Therapy, Altamirano-Santana is working hard on her recovery.
“All my pool friends are here and I couldn’t do it without them,” Altamirano-Santana said.
Some nurses at Saint Louise have lightning on their badges, which indicates that they have at some point made sure a stroke patient got Alteplase within 15 minutes.
“Every 40 seconds someone in the United States someone has a stroke, which is the leading cause of long-term disability,” Gunn said. “Hospitals earn these awards because hundreds of people are focused on doing the best job they can.”
”We say, time is brain and if we can treat it in the first hour we have a really good chance of reversing or stopping the damage strokes can do,” said John Hennelly, Chief Administrative Officer at Saint Louise. “Everyone here is working in concert, so treatment is quickly made.”

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