A Stroke Patient’s Road to Recovery: One Step at a Time - PIH Health

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Published on August 03, 2015

A Stroke Patient’s Road to Recovery: One Step at a Time

Stan Ellis stroke recovery patient

Stan Ellis stroke recovery patientStan Ellis was leading a fulfilling life. He ran a successful truck-leasing company. He was an active stationery cyclist, a non-smoker and a family man with three adult children. He lived a healthy lifestyle and had not seen a doctor in 40 years.
But in late July 2013, Stan suddenly became unaware of his surroundings, he lost his capacity to speak and the right side of his body became paralyzed. He was brought to the PIH Health Downey Hospital Emergency Department where he was diagnosed with a stroke and hypertension. He spent five days in the Downey Intensive Care Unit, where staff worked to stabilize his condition. The staff at the Downey campus got him through the most dangerous part of his experience.
Earlier that summer, PIH Health had taken over operations of the Downey hospital. Rosalio Lopez MD, PIH Health senior vice president and chief medical officer, was working at Downey and helped Stan and his family. Dr. Lopez realized that Stan would benefit from PIH Health’s Acute Rehabilitation Center (ARC) at PIH Health Whittier Hospital. The ARC specializes in treating patients who require intensive rehabilitation and specialized levels of care to recover from catastrophic illnesses and events.

When Stan arrived in the ARC, he was stable but bed bound, and his ability to communicate was limited. He was evaluated by hospitalists and the ARC medical directors who developed a plan for his recovery. But Stan wasn’t out of the woods just yet. As a result of the stroke, Stan had developed pneumonia and had trouble swallowing. Then, a few days later, physicians identified blood clots in his lower extremities, necessitating his transfer to the Whittier campus Telemetry Unit, which cares for heart patients. Treatments and procedures were performed to prevent clots from traveling to his lungs and brain.

Stan’s condition improved. Through intensive therapy, his speech returned and he recovered enough strength and coordination on his paralyzed right side to walk.

He was discharged a month and a half after his initial stroke, once again able to walk, speak and spend time doing what he loves – enjoying his family and friends and exercising. Stan now loves to walk, and he heads out into his neighborhood almost every day. Another frequent destination is PIH Health Downey Hospital, where he volunteers three times a week. Stan volunteers in the Engineering Department where he helps report needed repairs as well as in the Ambassador Center where he assists with patient discharges and runs errands throughout the hospital.

“Volunteering is my way of being a part of the institution that gave me my life back,” said Stan. “I want to do anything I can to support the physicians and nurses who care for patients and their family members, just like mine.”

Stan and his wife, Diana, feel fortunate. “The steady stream of care that I received at PIH Health, from my initial care in the Downey Emergency Department and Intensive Care Unit, to the ARC and Cardiac Units at Whittier, to home health services, got me back on my feet,” added Stan. “The compassion and encouragement of the staff inspired me every day.”

PIH Health Whittier Hospital is designated as an Acute Stroke Receiving Center in Los Angeles County by the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services.

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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