Saving Hal: Training Our Teams for Top-Quality Stroke Treatment

May 11, 2017 Providence St. Joseph Health Team


When Hal, a 51-year-old, half-pack per day smoker, came to Queen of the Valley Medical Center in Napa, California with garbled speech and sensation on just one side of his face, the emergency medical team rushed into action.

“Can you lift your arms?” asked Sarah Leon, RN. Hal’s left arm lifted, but his right arm stayed put.

Hal’s caregivers quickly identified the warning signs of a stroke—facial drooping, arm weakness and speech difficulty—and continued to find red flags. One nurse shined a light in Hal’s eyes, but his pupils remained dilated. Then, Hal’s entire body began to shake. “If you’ve had a stroke, you’re at a 30 percent greater risk of seizure,” Karen Canepa, RN, informed her team. Then, Leon immediately paged the neurologist so that Hal would be sent to have a CT scan to have a closer look at his brain.

Hal was treated with exemplary care by the team. Then, he was switched back to “pause.” Why? Because Hal® is an advanced medical simulation mannequin. This state-of-the art training device allows nursing staff to hone their stroke assessment skills.

“Stroke is prevalent in the population we serve,” said neurohospitalist Matthew Ho, MD, Queen of the Valley’s Stroke Director. “This training will ensure all of our nurses—whether they are in the emergency department or a patient unit—are proficient at finding risk factors so they can make safer and faster assessments.”

“There are so many aspects of a real life situation that can be simulated with Hal that would be impossible without him,” said Suzanne Banuelos, RN, one of Queen of the Valley’s nurses trained to facilitate the scenarios.

Nearly 450 nurses are training with Hal, thanks to an $88,020 grant provided to the hospital by The Doctor’s Company Foundation. And Queen of the Valley’s sister hospitals in Humboldt County will also be using this same technology as part of St. Joseph Humboldt’s new Clinical Academy, a training program for new and experienced nurses.

“We say that ‘time is brain,’” says Dr. Ho. “Like many ailments, you have a better chance of recovery if the symptoms are recognized and treated early on. Our partnership with The Doctors Company Foundation, and the support of our community, ensures we can be at the cutting edge of stroke care.”

And while Hal helps Napa and Humboldt be at the top of their game, treating stroke with expert care is a hallmark throughout St. Joseph Health.

In Sonoma County, Petaluma Valley Hospital earned an Advanced Disease-Specific Care Certification for being an Acute Stroke Ready Hospital from The Joint Commission and the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association. The certification recognizes hospitals equipped to treat stroke patients with timely, evidence-based care prior to transferring them to a Primary or Comprehensive Stroke Center. Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital is certified by The Joint Commission on Accreditation for Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) as a Primary Stroke Center. Achievement of certification signifies that the services Santa Rosa Memorial provides the critical elements needed to achieve long-term success in improving outcomes in stroke patients.

St. Mary in Apple Valley, California, has long been recognized by the American Heart Association for its success in implementing a higher standard of stroke care, and is preparing to become the only Stroke Receiving Center for the local region.

St. Jude Medical Center in Fullerton, California offers state-of-the-art neuro-interventional procedures and is home to one of Southern California’s largest groups of neuro-certified intensivists. St. Jude is designated as one of only a few hospitals in the state to be an Advanced Comprehensive Stroke Center by the Joint Commission and American Heart Association/American Stroke Association.

Mission Hospital is an Orange County Emergency Medical Services designated Stroke-Neurology Receiving Center, and the only hospital in south Orange County providing advanced neurologic care for stroke. The American Stroke Association gave Covenant Health a Stroke Gold Plus Performance Achievement Award. St. Joseph Hospital, Orange offers comprehensive stroke and neurological services, including an extensive physical rehabilitation service.

All of these efforts and more throughout St. Joseph Health point to the many ways early treatment of stroke is saving lives. As for Hal, he has yet to adopt healthy habits that might help reduce his risk of stroke, but nurses remain hopeful.

This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your health care professional's instructions.


Previous Article
St. Joseph Health Hospitals Provide World-Class Neurological Care
St. Joseph Health Hospitals Provide World-Class Neurological Care

Highlighting neurological care at our hospitals

Next Article
Coordinating Care for Stroke Patients
Coordinating Care for Stroke Patients

Coordinating stroke care at Mission Hospital