St. Joseph Health System
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Life Can Change in an Instant

Zach ErskineOn Monday, January 25, 2010, 33 year-old Zach Erskine was living a normal, healthy life. He was going about his day as he did every day, visiting with his girlfriend, readying himself for his daily work, everything was normal. Out of nowhere, he began to slur as he was speaking with his girlfriend - she asked him what was wrong, and he could not answer.

"I was trying to talk to her," Zach recalled, "and the words that were coming out of my mouth were not the ones I was trying to say." 

He turned to walk away, and passed out. He said he remembers falling down, then not much after that. His girlfriend first called his mother who told her to call 9-1-1. 

EMS was immediately dispatched, and Zach was taken to the Emergency Room at St. Joseph Regional Health Center in Bryan. When he arrived, he could not move the right side of his body; his face was paralyzed on the right; when he smiled, the right side of his face didn't move; when he stuck his tongue out, it went to the right and he could not swallow. He was rapidly assessed and tPA (also known as the "clot-buster medicine") was started. He was taken to the cath lab at St. Joseph where neurosurgeon, Dr. Bradley White performed the Merci device procedure (mechanical clot removal). Only 163 minutes after Zach arrived at St. Joseph and only one pass with the Merci device, the entire clot was removed. There was complete restoration of flow immediately, and five days later, Zach walked out of the hospital - literally unscathed! While Zach is no stranger to hospitals - he was born with a congenital heart defect - he was in otherwise great health, as you would expect of a 33 year-old man. Only three weeks after suffering a stroke, Zach returned to his normal routine managing College Station HEB, playing video games, and spending time with his girlfriend and family. There was no rehabilitation necessary, no restrictions on his activities - he is 100% recovered! Incredible care equals incredible outcomes! 

Clot and PennyFor Zach, the Primary Stroke Center at St. Joseph made all the difference. Zach's life was saved because the team of professionals at St. Joseph was prepared, they knew the nationally recognized stroke protocols, and followed them to the letter.

"Mr. Erskine is a very fortunate individual," Dr. White said. "He was at the right place at the right time and had the benefit of living in a community that provides comprehensive stroke care to its patients. His miraculous recovery would not have been possible had it not been for the well-trained team of providers that he encountered that encompasses EMS, a proficient emergency department and top-notch nursing care."

St. Joseph is the only Primary Stroke Center in the region, as designated by the Joint Commission for the Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations. The Joint Commission's Certificate of Distinction for Primary Stroke Centers recognizes centers that make exceptional efforts to foster better outcomes for stroke care. Achievement of certification signifies that the services provided have the critical elements to achieve long-term success in improving outcomes. It is the best signal to the community that the quality care is effectively managed to meet the unique and specialized needs of stroke patients.

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