Patient Fends Off Second Stroke Thanks to NMC Physical Therapist

Newton Medical Center (NMC) patient Sandy Banman was making strong progress in her rehabilitation following a stroke.

From her early days on the hospital’s inpatient rehabilitation unit (IRU) with weakness on one side, slurred speech and re-learning to walk and perform basic functions, Sandy had just reached a milestone — walking down a long hospital hall without the aid of a walker. But she noticed her physical therapist was less than pleased.

“She was concerned that I really appeared to be out of breath,” Sandy recalls. “But I didn’t think it was odd. It was my first long walk after the stroke.”

The physical therapist measured Sandy’s oxygen levels, found them low and immediately consulted the IRU medical director. She then whisked Sandy to the imaging department for a CT scan which revealed blood clots in her lungs. If left unchecked, the clots could have caused another stroke or worse.

“I’m very grateful that she was on the ball and asking questions,” Sandy says. “She knew something wasn’t right. I was very fortunate.”

The vigilance and attention demonstrated by Sandy’s therapist was just one example of the high level of care she received during her stay at NMC. NMC’s IRU is designated as an Inpatient Rehabilitation Facility (IRF), a uniquely designed program that allows patients maximum therapy time to recover from trauma or events such as stroke.

Sandy’s ordeal had started one early Sunday morning in January, when she reached down for something while getting dressed and was overcome by dizziness when she stood up. The dizziness wouldn’t go away and she told her husband to call 9-1-1. A resident of nearby Goessel, Sandy was rushed to NMC’s emergency department where a stroke was diagnosed. She was then sent to Wichita for further treatment at a specialized stroke center.

“It was so bewildering to me,” Sandy says. “I was in good health and had not had any blood pressure or other health problems.”

As it turned out, Sandy had a patent foramen ovale (PFO), or hole in the heart, a condition that shows no symptoms in adults. The condition can, however, contribute to strokes by allowing blood clots through the hole and to the brain. Choosing treatment with blood thinners as opposed to surgery, Sandy returned to NMC a week-and-a-half later for the intensive level of rehabilitation available at NMC’s IRU.

Although Sandy was familiar with the hospital, her inpatient experience has given her a new perspective, both on the high quality of therapy services available, and the compassionate care exhibited by everyone she met.

“If you have a choice of where to go for rehab, I would choose Newton Medical Center,” Sandy says. “They have a great variety of things to help with rehab and the therapists are very knowledgeable and compassionate. I felt like they did a good job of pushing me to accomplish my goals.”

Sandy was so pleased with the care she received at NMC, she has become a member of the hospital’s Patient and Family Advisory Council, a group dedicated to serving as the liaison between the hospital and patients/families to ensure the best possible hospital and healthcare experiences.

“When staff recommended that I join the Advisory Council, I took the opportunity,” she says. “I had first-hand knowledge and was impressed by so many “common things” that NMC has in rehab and patient practices; I wanted to share my good experience and help other patients have that.”