‘This is beyond life-saving, this is life-changing’: JCMC establishes region’s first comprehensive stroke center

JOHNSON CITY, TN (WJHL)- Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia are considered to have one of the highest rates of strokes in the country.

On Tuesday, officials at Mountain States Health Alliance announced that people now have access to a comprehensive stroke center, the only of it’s kind in our region.

JCMC was certified by the Joint Commission, a designation of the highest level of stroke certification available.

Officials said this certification was earned mostly because of the expert team of staff members and doctors at the hospital who can provide life-saving surgical treatment.

Dr. Brian Mason is part of that team, he’s someone who can treat both bleeding, and clotting types of stroke with advanced, and minimally invasive surgical techniques. These are techniques that can stop a stroke in progress.

“Every minute about two million brain cells die, so getting to the right hospital with the right treatment options is imperative, with the establishment of the stroke center, and our stroke hub network with our partnering hospitals in Northeast Tennessee, we are now able to offer the best and the latest treatment options for all the patients,” Dr. Mason said.

One of the speakers at Tuesday’s announcement is someone who knows just how important these treatment options are.

Kimberly Coates suffered a stroke in 2016, introducing Dr. Mason as the man who saved her life.

“I said mom, call 911, I was talking to her having a cup of coffee, and it just hit me, boom…I would be willing to help them any way I could, cause having your life saved is amazing,” Coates said.

Tim Estes was also sitting in the room Tuesday morning, telling us after the announcement that he didn’t need the certification to know what these doctors are capable of.

“This is beyond life-saving, this is life-changing, if they had not had the capability to do what they had done…we would be in a lot worse place today,” Estes said.

Estes is the father of 23-year-old Ashley Hale, who also stood before the crowd, less than a month after she suffered a stroke.

“She had all the classic signs and symptoms, facial droop, unable to speak…are you going to lose your child? …there are a lot of tears a lot of praying that went on,” Estes said.

He told us that he couldn’t be more thankful for what this team was able to do for his daughter Ashley, and his entire family.

“He (Dr. Mason) will be a lifelong member of our family now, his whole team will because without him, we wouldn’t have our daughter,” Estes said.

Doctors said there are three major signs of a stroke you should be aware of.

Those signs include facial drooping, arm weakness, and speech difficulty.

If you believe you are having a stroke, and see any of these signs they say it’s important to call 911 immediately.

Both Indian Path Medical Center and Johnston Memorial Hospital are certified primary stroke centers, while Franklin Woods Community Hospital and Sycamore Shoals Hospital are certified as acute stroke ready.

Copyright WJHL 2018. All rights reserved.

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