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John T. Mather Memorial Hospital - winter 06 (Page 3)

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John T. Mather Memorial Hospital - winter 06
very 45 seconds, someone in
America has a stroke. Every three
minutes, someone dies of one.
Sixty-nine-year-old Bayville resident
Alfred Alacca narrowly escaped those
statistics, thanks to quick thinking and
the skills of the staff at Mather Hospital's
Primary Stroke Center.
"My cousin John [Festa] and I love to
be on the water," Alacca explains. "We
left Port Jeff Harbor and were in the
Smithtown vicinity when I suddenly had
no feeling in my left leg and soon couldn't
move my left arm or left leg. I kind of
knew what was happening as my cousin
called 911 and motored back the seven or
so miles to Port Jeff Harbor as fast as he
could. The EMS crew was at the dock
already waiting for us. The most difficult
part was getting me off the boat."
The crew, extensively trained in rec-
ognizing the warning signs of a stroke,
knew immediately what to do and
called Mather Hospital, recently desig-
nated as a Primary Stroke Center by the
New York State Department of Health.
By the time the crew arrived at Mather
with Alacca, just minutes later, the
stroke team was assembled. Alacca was
seen and evaluated upon arrival by
Emergency Department Staff Doctor
Ralph Stephen, M.D., and had a CT
(computed tomography) scan and
appropriate diagnostic tests only
moments after that.
"My cousin praised Mather for its
services in the past, because he lives
locally," Alacca says. "I felt then and I
know now that with the immediate
attention I received, the effects of the
stroke were kept to a minimum. I was
in the right hands."
During the CT scan of Alacca's
brain, Neurologist Augustine Romano,
M.D., noticed something. Alacca, who
had had surgery 10 years ago on his left
carotid artery, was "loaded with
plaque" in that artery. Within two
hours of receiving medications, Alacca
got the feeling back in his leg and arm.
He learned that the plaque had broken
off and traveled to his brain. He also
learned that he had gotten to the hospi-
tal and had been treated successfully
within the crucial three hours.
"The success of treatment for stroke
depends greatly on people's ability to rec-
ognize signs and symptoms of a stroke or
brain attack and getting to the hospital
quickly," Dr. Romano says.
"Experiencing any of the warning signs
is an indication that it is essential to get
help immediately."
A New York City firefighter for
more than three decades, Alacca has
much to look forward to: visiting
Washington to see his son and daugh-
ter-in-law, who just returned from
tours of duty in Afghanistan and Iraq,
and returning to one of his primary
passions--fishing the waters of Long
Island Sound.
"I am grateful to be able to resume
my normal life," Alacca says. "I do
believe that without the immediate care
I received, I would not have recovered
as quickly as I did."
The Cincinnati Prehospital Stroke Scale is a test used to assess a patient's facial muscles, arm
movement and speech function. Abnormality in any one of the tests strongly suggests stroke.
The patient is asked to show teeth or smile.
Normal: Both sides of the face move equally well.
Abnormal: One side of the face does not move as well as the other.
The patient is asked to close both eyes and hold both arms straight out for 10 seconds.
Normal: Both arms move the same or both arms do not move at all.
Abnormal: One arm does not move or one arm drifts down.
The patient is asked to repeat a simple phrase, such as "You can't teach an old dog
new tricks."
Normal: Patient uses correct words with no slurring.
Abnormal: Patient slurs words, uses the wrong words or is unable to speak.
"I felt then and I know now
that with the immediate
attention I received, the
effects of the stroke were
kept to a minimum. I was
in the right hands."
From left: Recovered stroke patient Alfred Alacca
with his brother, Andrew, and cousin, John Festa,
on a fishing excursion in Port Jefferson Harbor.
Signs of Stroke
What Is Stroke?
Stroke is a type of cardiovascular disease that affects the arteries leading to and within the
brain. Stroke is the nation's third-leading cause of death. A stroke occurs when a blood vessel
that carries oxygen and nutrients to the brain either bursts or is blocked by a clot. When that
happens, part of the brain cannot get the blood (and oxygen) it needs, so it starts to die.
Early in 2005, the New York State Department of Health (NYS DOH) announced an effort
to designate stroke centers statewide to improve the standard and access to quality of care
for patients with a presumptive diagnosis of stroke. In October, Mather Hospital was desig-
nated a NYS DOH Primary Stroke Center, with a team of medical specialists trained to recog-
nize and treat the signs and symptoms of stroke within a designated time frame.
Stroke is a medical emergency. Know these warning signs of stroke and teach them to
sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
sudden severe headache with no known cause
Call 911 immediately if you experience symptoms. Every second counts. Time lost is
brain lost--and brain lost is function lost.

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