Saved From a Stroke on Nantucket

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One morning last year John Belash was standing at the bathroom sink of his Nantucket home when he suddenly fell backwards. The 84-year-old island resident didn’t know it immediately, but he was suffering from a stroke.

Rushed to Nantucket Cottage Hospital, Belash has only a vague recollection of being on a gurney as he was taken to the hospital’s emergency department. His clearest memory is seeing a doctor on a television monitor consulting with the emergency room physicians at his side.

The doctor on the screen was a stroke specialist at Massachusetts General Hospital who was communicating in real time with Belash’s doctors on the island through Nantucket Cottage Hospital’s tele-stroke program. The clinical team quickly diagnosed Belash’s condition as a stroke.

With the guidance of one of the top stroke programs in Massachusetts, Belash received a CT-scan and an electrocardiogram. In addition, Nantucket Cottage Hospital’s pharmacist Dave Small was called in to mix a dose of tPA, an FDA-approved stroke treatment that dissolves clots and improves blood flow to the part of the brain being deprived of blood.

With his initial diagnosis and treatment complete, Belash was transferred by Boston Medflight helicopter to Massachusetts General Hospital. Upon arrival and further medical work-up and treatment, he was greeted by the same physician he had seen on the tele-stroke monitor while in the NCH emergency department.

After three nights at MGH, Belash was discharged and returned to Nantucket, enormously grateful for a system that worked precisely as planned to get him the care he needed. The timely, life-changing save by the medical teams at Nantucket Cottage Hospital and Mass General averted the most damaging potential impacts of Belash’s stroke, including paralysis and loss of brain function.

“ The immediate response and seamless interaction from the beginning to end was extraordinary, from the EMTs to the Emergency Department and the coordination with MGH,” Belash said. “Everything functioned as it should have. It’s a tribute to how the system worked to give me the best possible treatment.”


Grateful patients

8 / 25 / 2015 by


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