Advanced Stroke Care - PIH Health

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Published on November 16, 2016

When Every Second Counts

David Trcopan - stroke patient

Stroke Patient Gets Advanced Care at PIH Health Stroke Receiving Center

A stroke is a medical emergency that requires immediate treatment—and every second counts.

David Trcopan - stroke patientDavid Trcopan, a 53-year-old Downey resident, was glad he got to PIH Health Whittier Hospital, one of the few area hospitals designated by Los Angeles County as a primary Stroke Receiving Center with advanced certification for rapid diagnosis and treatment.

David’s stroke happened on a Sunday night around 10 pm. When his wife Kathy checked on him, he appeared to be paralyzed on his right side. She immediately called 911.

Once David arrived at PIH Health Whittier Hospital, physicians performed a CT scan and said he needed an embolectomy to remove a blood clot in his brain. Physicians assessed him with a National Institutes of Health (NIH) Stroke Scale of 29 (indicating a severe stroke), and whisked him into surgery around 1:15 am. Fortunately, time was on their side.

“The physicians removed the clot without any issues, and after David was moved to a room, he had begun moving his right foot and started to speak,” explained Kathy. “By the next morning, David was walking around the intensive care unit. Several doctors commented on his miraculous recovery and ability to walk so soon after surgery. I believe it was a combination of excellent physicians plus the power of prayer.”

One day after surgery, David’s Stroke Scale had improved to 10 (a significant improvement) and three days later, David checked out of the hospital. Today, David is walking, talking, driving, back to work, and—tremendously grateful for his recovery.

“PIH Health Whittier Hospital is unique because we offer endovascular specialists that are trained in extracting a blood clot blocking arteries in the brain,” said C. Rodger Hughes MD, PIH Health interventional radiologist. “This level of treatment is not available at all stroke-certified hospitals.”

Symptoms of a stroke happen quickly, often causing sudden numbness, weakness or loss of movement in the face, arm or leg (especially on only one side of the body). A stroke can also cause sudden vision changes, trouble speaking, a severe headache, confusion or imbalance. If you suspect a stroke, remember the FAST acronym:

  • Face – Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?
  • Arms – Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
  • Speech – Is their speech slurred or strange?
  • Time – If you observe any of these signs, call 911 immediately.

To learn more about what makes PIH Health a Stroke Receiving Center, visit

The information in Healthy Living Online is for educational purposes only.  It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice.  The reader should always consult his or her healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation, or if they have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan.

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