A community unifies to improve stroke care
On Mother’s Day 2017, Melanie Hirdler arrived home in the afternoon from a long road trip and was putting away some things in her kitchen when she suddenly suffered a massive large vessel stroke. In a moment, she was robbed of all movement on the right side of her body and her ability to speak.
Lying on the kitchen floor she says she wasn’t fully aware of what was happening, but she knew that she was helpless to do much of anything to respond. She says she gave in to the stroke and tried to find some peace among the storm of being rushed to the hospital from her cozy home on the Sacramento River in Weaverville, Calif.
Melanie woke up later that day at Dignity Health Mercy Medical Center Redding. She was surrounded by doctors, nurses and technicians. They asked her if she could move and Melanie raised both arms and signaled yes by flashing two enthusiastic thumbs up. The caregivers in the room, beamed, teared up and celebrated. They were heroes to Melanie and her family that day.
“All of their faces were so happy,” Melanie recalls. “They cared about me. They gave me my life back.”
Melanie did not know it at the time, but her life was saved thanks to the stroke and vascular advancement project at Mercy Medical Center. The project included the recent recruitment of Dr. Erek Helseth to the staff, and allowed for the purchase of leading-edge equipment that can remove blood clots in patients that were, until recently, seen as inoperable.
Strokes are a major cause of death and the leading cause of disability in the United States. The combination of expert staff and technology in Redding is extending the time patients can be treated for ischemic stroke and improving outcomes dramatically. Nearly 75 percent of patients who receive this care are able to leave the hospital and go home, instead of to skilled nursing or rehabilitation facilities.
The stroke and vascular advancement project is improving the lives of stroke patients all over northern California and the surrounding region. Multiple benefactors in the community came together to support this project, donating more than $1 million to Mercy Foundation North.
Melanie says she is grateful to be back to her independent life as a plein air artist thanks to the expert, compassionate care she received at Dignity Health.
“This treatment is so effective,” says Dr. Helseth. “Ultimately, this is a mom who came in on Mother’s Day and went back to her family. That’s what we did that day.”