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Continuum of Care

Posted on December 13, 2018 in Cardiology

Rodhouse receives stroke and heart care at Fort Sanders Regional

Janet Rodhouse had just finished a long day of teaching third and fourth graders in Seymour, followed by parent-teacher conferences in the evening. She hadn’t eaten anything for a while, so she decided to head to the kitchen for a snack.

Then something strange happened.

“My right arm shook,” Rodhouse says. “And my right leg gave way. I thought maybe my (blood) sugar was low.”

Rodhouse spent the night with a friend – just to be on the safe side.

“We went to the doctor’s office the next day because my arm was still weak,” Rodhouse recalls. “She immediately sent me to Fort Sanders Regional.”

Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center is accredited by The Joint Commission as a Comprehensive Stroke Center, part of an elite group of health care providers specializing in cutting edge stroke medicine, performing clinical trials and procedures not available anywhere else in East Tennessee.

The window of time for stopping the stroke in its tracks had passed, so neurologist James Hora, MD, Ph.D., and the team at Fort Sanders Regional quickly moved forward with the next steps of diagnosis and treatment.

“They were very efficient,” Rodhouse says. “They were doing tests to see why it happened.”

Those tests were critical, because they revealed the stroke wasn’t her only problem. Rodhouse learned she had a heart defect that commonly causes stroke.

The Right Place at the Right Time

In addition to being a Stroke Center of Excellence, Fort Sanders Regional is home to an award-winning Heart Center that offers comprehensive cardiovascular services. These services include testing, surgical procedures, cardiac rehab, advanced diagnostics, interventional technologies, cardiovascular surgeries, and clinical trials.

Rodhouse benefited from an incredible continuum of care, and in the space of a few hours transitioned from being a stroke patient to a heart patient, all at the same hospital. She received a complete diagnosis from cardiologist Thomas M. Ayres, MD.

The problem was a hole in her heart that cardiologists call a patent foramen ovale (PFO). A blood clot had passed through, prompting the stroke. Surgery was scheduled to close the hole, using an implanted device that keeps blood flow from passing through any PFO.

After recovery, Rodhouse is facing life with a new awareness. With solid health care to back her up, this schoolteacher is back to putting her heart into helping her students learn – and she doesn’t need a stroke of good luck to make it happen.