St. John Stroke Center Leads The Way In Saving Lives, Doctor Says

Thursday, February 26th 2015, 8:24 pm
By: Tess Maune

St. John Hospital in Tulsa is being recognized as one of the state's best in treating stroke patients quickly.

One young patient says the stroke center at St. John saved her life.

When you think of a stroke, Angela Phillips, at 34 and healthy, isn't who comes to mind.

“On paper, this should not have happened to me,” she said.

But Phillips is proof it can happen to anyone at anytime.

“They really didn't know if I was going to make it or going to have to have surgery or any of those kind of things,” she said.

It's been about five weeks since Phillips suffered a major stroke.

As a nurse practitioner, she knew the symptoms. But they didn't register at the time, and she thought it was a seizure.

“The cough turned into choking, and then all I remember is drooling out of the right side of my mouth,” she said. “All the textbook symptoms, but I had to have been more confused than I realized, even though I can recall everything.”

She was sent to two hospitals before ending up at St. John's stroke center, where the program's vice director Dr. Justin Thankachan was waiting.

“Time is tissue,” Thankachan said. “The longer you wait, the more tissue or brain you are losing.”

The comprehensive program is known for its quick response times to stroke patients. It has racked up numerous awards, the highest being the American Stroke Association "Target: Stroke Honor Roll Elite Plus" honor.

“To us, it's not really important about getting the award, it's about trying to do the best that we can,” Thankachan said.

Thankachan said 75 percent of stroke patients get the therapy they need in less than an hour, and 50 percent are treated in less than 45 minutes.

Phillips is one of those cases... a story of survival that has changed her life.

“It's really hard to not appreciate everything,” Phillips said. “I almost feel kind of silly because I just can't even help but be happy and smile because I'm still here.

St. John's stroke program is eastern Oklahoma's only comprehensive stroke center and one of only 84 nationwide.