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Monongahela Valley Hospital is a Primary Stroke Center, Because Seconds Count

Emily Ferrara, occupational therapist at Valley Outpatient Rehabilitation in Rostraver, works with stroke victim photo

Emily Ferrara, occupational therapist at Valley Outpatient Rehabilitation in Rostraver, works with stroke victim Deborah Tiernan (off camera), who is grabbing and moving pegs from her palm to her fingertips to help regain strength and dexterity in her hands.
(May 12, 2014 - Carroll Township, Pa.)

Three months ago, 52-year old Grindstone resident Deb Tiernan felt her legs tingling and found she could not move her hand to pick things up. She immediately told her husband she thought she was having a stroke and needed to get to the hospital.

Thanks to her quick reaction, the EMS responders alerted Monongahela Valley Hospital's emergency room staff of her impending arrival with stroke-like symptoms. Medical staff greeted her at the door and rushed her for a CT scan, then connected her with a stroke telemedicine doctor, who examined her via a two-way screen, and medical staff started her on medication.

May is National Stroke Awareness Month and every minute counts with a possible brain attack called a stroke. The sooner a patient receives medical treatment, the lower risk for disability or death from this blocked or ruptured vessel in the brain. Fortunately for local residents, Monongahela Valley Hospital has been designated as a Primary Stroke Center by The Joint Commission.

The Hospital also received the distinction of the American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association's Get With The Guidelines® Stroke Silver Plus Quality Achievement Award. This distinction recognizes MVH's commitment and success in implementing a higher standard of stroke care by ensuring that stroke patients receive treatment according to nationally accepted standards and recommendations.

Now 12 weeks later, Ms. Tiernan, a hairdresser, is eager to reconnect with her clients at the Hopwood hair salon where she works. She said her 20-year old daughter, her husband and her mother have all been very supportive during her recovery.

She still receives occupational therapy sessions in her home to strengthen her muscles to regain dexterity and the complete use of her hands.

"When I think of where I was three months ago and where I am now, it's a big difference and I get very emotional," she said. "Dr. (Dennis) Mateya said in a few more months I should be as good as new."

Jennifer McMullen, MVH Stroke Care Coordinator, was working the night the ambulance brought Ms. Tiernan to the hospital.

"She experienced the whole range of stroke care services offered at MVH, from the EMS personnel to the Emergency Department where she was treated; we admitted her to the Intensive Care Unit, where all nurses are trained for stroke care; after an observation period there, she spent time on the inpatient stroke unit (4-PCU), then received inpatient rehabilitation therapy and then therapy as an outpatient after she returned home," said McMullen.

Ms. Tiernen said her care continues at MVH as doctors discovered and are treating and and monitoring a rare hereditary blood disorder that affects the plaque buildup in her veins that will make her susceptible to strokes for the rest of her life.

Strokes can affect people of all ages. In fact, nearly a quarter of all strokes occur in people younger than age 65. According to the National Stroke Association, every 40 seconds, someone has a stroke in the United States;40 percent of all stroke deaths occur in males, and 60 percent in females. Americans will pay about $73.7 billion in 2010 for stroke-related medical costs and disability.

In addition to providing fast intervention to people suffering from strokes, Monongahela Valley Hospital provides inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation and offers a Stroke Support Group that meets the last Thursday of each month at 1 p.m. in the hospital's Anthony M. Lombardi Education Conference Center
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