Medical Technology Helps Save Stroke Patient

“Technology saved my life!”

Leroy Luraschi wouldn’t consider himself a “tech-savvy” person but someone who occasionally likes to surf the web or play a game on his home computer. Leroy was doing just that one evening at his Montrose home when all of a sudden he felt an unexpected sensation in his head. “It felt like something broke. I felt like someone was poking something through my eye,” he explains.

Leroy got up from his computer, walked into his bedroom and collapsed onto the floor. “All I remember is my 19-year old son Jacob running into the room, he called 9-1-1,” says Leroy.  Paramedics took Leroy to Montrose Memorial Hospital. Immediately upon arrival to the emergency room Leroy says he knew he was having a stroke. “I couldn’t talk or move my whole right side,” he explains. Staff at Memorial Hospital dialed in Swedish Medical Center Neurologist Dr. Chris Fanale by tele-medicine technology and he was up on a screen within minutes ready to consult with doctors about Leroy. “It’s pretty wild that there was a specialist hundreds of miles away in Denver helping me in the ER,” says Leroy.

Leroy was transferred shortly after to Swedish Medical Center in Denver by helicopter where he was assessed in person by Dr. Fanale and the stroke team. According to Dr. Fanale, “stroke can happen to anyone, anywhere, at any time.  Stroke does not discriminate with age. Being close to a certified stroke center or a hospital with telemedicine capabilities allows you to get stroke treatment rapidly and efficiently. Sometimes patients in non-urban communities need a higher level of care due to the severity and complicated nature of their strokes. At Swedish Medical Center, we have the multidisciplinary team with the stroke specialists that can care for patients such as these on a 24/7/365 basis. The quicker we can treat, the better the outcome. We can only do that with seamless clinical collaboration between hospitals, as was displayed in the care of this patient. ”

Leroy, who is 49-years old, didn’t expect he’d ever have a stroke. “I was completely caught off guard that I was having a stroke. But I’m so glad that I had the Swedish stroke team right there with me. They made my life worth living again and they sure know what they’re doing!” says Leroy.


Off-Duty Swedish Nurse Helps Save Man’s Life

“I don’t remember much but from what I heard, I was saved by some

Sixty-eight year old James Southard was out and about on a normal Thursday afternoon with his wife Michele and his 8-month old grandson and their two dogs. They had just finished up a routine visit at the veterinary clinic and were on their way home.  Getting into the car, James says he felt normal, nothing out of the ordinary but as he was pulling out of the parking lot he stepped on the break and yelled out  “oh no!”  The next thing his wife Michele knew, James was passed out in the driver’s seat. “I was so scared, I put the car in park and got out to start screaming for help,” she explains.

At the same moment that James passed out, off-duty Swedish Emergency Department RN Debora Rewerts was across the street gassing up her car. She pulled out of the parking lot when she noticed traffic wasn’t moving and there was a man lying on the ground. “I didn’t think twice and ran over to him. There were already people there trying to help. One man in particular was there trying to speak to him and kept things calm,” says Debora.  At first she thought James was having a stroke. Someone had already called 9-1-1 so Debora called into the Emergency Department at Swedish Medical Center to warn them a stroke patient was soon to be on their way.

Shortly after the call to the ED, James stopped breathing. The Englewood Fire Department on the way, Debora and another man started administering CPR. “Being a nurse and reacting to emergencies is what I’ve done for 24 years. It’s like second nature,” says Debora.  James was taken to Swedish by ambulance.

“Everyone played a prime part in saving his life. It was just a sense of relief that I wasn’t alone,” says his wife Michele.  She explains that once James was transported to the hospital, a stranger helped to bring her, and her grandson along with the two dogs to the emergency waiting room. “There were so many strangers who helped in this situation. They are truly our angels and I’m so grateful they were there for us,” Michele explains.  Upon arrival to the hospital it was determined that James wasn’t having a stroke but was suffering from a heart attack and he was rushed to the Cardiac Cath Lab where he immediately received a stent and was then taken to the Critical Care Unit.

“God protected me, that is all I can say,” says James.  Debora and James were reunited the day after the incident and it couldn’t have been a better moment for everyone involved. “He looks great! It’s so rewarding to see him,” Debora said with a smile.

“Life is short, Debora expanded mine, that’s for sure!” says James.

A Father’s Day Miracle

Father’s Day is more than just a day to celebrate being a father for 75-year old David Smith.  He has five children, 16 grandchildren and 14 great grandchildren who all make the day extra special for him. But this past Father’s Day, David didn’t receive the chance to attend the usual reunion with his family. Instead, he ended up spending the day with them at Swedish Medical Center.

“It was the day before Father’s Day. I was in the kitchen and David was in the garage. I heard something unusual and ran to go see if everything was alright. David was on the floor of the garage with blood all around him. He had hit his head on something. I rushed over to him and knew instantly he was having a stroke. I immediately dialed 9-1-1,” explains David’s wife, Mary Smith.

David was breathing but couldn’t speak; one of the signs of stroke. “I just knew it was a stroke, I was holding his hand and telling him to just stay with me,” says Mary. David was rushed to Swedish Medical Center where the stroke team was waiting for him. He was given a clot-busting medication within 27 minutes. “The stroke team reacted so fast when David arrived to the hospital. He wouldn’t be here without them!” explains Mary.

David woke up in the CCU and couldn’t remember much. He was told he’d have to be in the hospital for a couple of days then transfer to Swedish Acute Rehab to regain his strength. The care here has been great! I knew Swedish was a trauma center but I had no idea they had such an amazing stroke team,” says David. “I know it’s a miracle that I’m here today, that I can talk, walk and be with my family.”

His family calls him a “Father’s Day miracle.” This is the second time David has faced a medical emergency after suffering a heart attack 10 years ago. His wife says she believes it’s just not his time yet and that he’s meant to watch the three generations underneath him grow up and follow in his footsteps. “Our time together is so precious, he really has dodged the bullet twice but I honestly thank God and the team at Swedish for saving my husband’s life.”