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FAST thinking, rapid intervention help Halstead woman survive stroke

Jennifer Bean stroke survivor

For Jennifer Bean, Feb. 7, 2015, is a day she’ll never forget.

She had just returned from riding horses with her teenage daughter, Zoe, and friend, Genea Voges, and was unloading her trailer.

Suddenly, Jennifer collapsed in the driveway of Genea’s Newton, Kansas, home.

Seeing her stumble and hearing her slurred speech, “Zoe thought I was drunk,” says the then 39-year-old Jennifer.

Fortunately, Mark Voges, an EMT and former lieutenant with the Sedgwick County Fire Department, knew better and called 9-1-1. He knew the FAST signs of stroke: Face drooping, Arm can be held up, Speech is slurred, and Time is off the essence.

“He knew immediately that I was having a stroke and that Via Christi was where I needed to be,” says Jennifer, who was taken by ambulance to Ascension Via Christi St. Francis, which today is the area’s only Comprehensive Stroke Center.

While much her memory about her time in the ER at St. Francis is still cloudy, she has vivid memories of the nurse who explained and administered the clot-busting tPA within 38 minutes of her arrival.

“Her confidence made me comfortable that this was the right treatment for me,” says Jennifer.

'Above and beyond'

After receiving the tPA, she was transferred to St. Francis dedicated 20-bed Neurocritical Care Unit, the only one of its kind in the area.

Later, it was determined that while her right carotid artery was 70 percent blocked, her stroke was likely attributable to a hyper-coagulable condition related to her previously diagnosed lupus.

“The physicians and nurses in the ICU were amazing,” says Jennifer. “They were forever going above and beyond.”

For example, she says, they arranged for her to take shower in the adjacent unit rather than have a sponge bath and regularly took her for walks to alleviate her anxiety.

After just five days, Jennifer was discharged home, with a recommendation for ongoing monitoring and outpatient physical therapy.

Now, approximately 15 months later, she’s continuing to reclaim her life.

 “I’ve had memory loss, some difficulty focusing and finding the right words,” she says, and a few other residual effects, such as weight loss and joint pain that may be related to lupus than her stroke. “But I am up and walking.”

And, since about a month after her stroke, back in the saddle.

About Roz Hutchinson

Roz Hutchinson is a Wichita wife, mother and chief spoiler of six grandkids and three Chihuahuas, a die-hard women's basketball fan, and director of Communications and Public Relations for Ascension Via Christi.