Cumberland Medical Center Delivers Lifesaving “Fast and Careful Care” to Stroke Patient

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Rapid Intervention with TNK Helps Crossville Resident Recover and Resume Active Life

After moving to the Cumberland Plateau during the COVID-19 pandemic, cancer survivor Teresa Hess thought her health issues were behind her. But when she had a stroke episode in 2023, she quickly became acquainted with the medical team at Cumberland Medical Center and is thankful to them for providing her with lifesaving “fast and careful care.”

Teresa Hess
Teresa Hess is thankful for the “fast and careful” stroke care she received at Cumberland Medical Center.

Hess and her husband enjoy participating with their children and grandchildren in outdoor activities and water sports. She volunteers in the community and lives a healthy, active lifestyle. One morning in fall 2023, she suddenly couldn’t move her left arm or leg. Her husband called 911 and she was transported by ambulance to Cumberland Medical Center.

“They got me right in for a CT scan,” Hess recalls. “After they gave me medication, I went from not being able to move my left side to the entire feeling returning within 24 hours. The feeling all came back.”

Stroke Treatment with TNK

Hess received the clot-busting drug known as tenecteplase (TNK). This potent anti-coagulant belongs to a class of drugs called thrombolytics. These types of drugs work to dissolve clots by targeting clotting factors in the blood. Simply put, TNK can break up a clot in a vessel in the brain that is causing an ischemic stroke. This type of stroke occurs when the blood flow to an area of the brain is interrupted by a blocked or broken blood vessel. When a stroke occurs, it kills brain cells in the immediate area.

For stroke patients who are candidates for treatment with TNK, the restoration of normal blood flow to the brain can minimize, and in some cases eliminate, life-changing deficits that may have occurred without treatment. However, TNK needs to be administered shortly after symptoms start – the TNK stroke window is only three to four hours after the onset of symptoms. TNK can reduce the chance of disability and increase a patient’s chances of being able to return to previous activities.

Stroke Care Services at Cumberland Medical Center

Cumberland Medical Center is a member of Covenant Health’s stroke hospital network and is certified  by The Joint Commission as an Advanced Primary Stroke Center that meets clinical standards to support better outcomes for stroke care. Hess stayed one night in Cumberland Medical Center’s intensive care unit for close monitoring and several subsequent days in the hospital. She says, “My nurses and the whole team were amazing. I had wonderful, compassionate, kind, and very knowledgeable people caring for me.”

As advised by her doctor, Hess completed physical therapy for stroke at Covenant Health Therapy Center, where she worked on strengthening her small muscle groups to help with movement and balance. “It felt wonderful to get back on track. The entire experience was so helpful; I hadn’t realized how weakened my small muscles were,” she says. Hess makes a point to move and exercise each day. She says she feels like herself again and is back to her normal activities.

“I was treated so well. Everyone at the hospital was caring and attentive, and that has been true every time I’ve had to visit. I highly recommend Cumberland Medical Center to anyone living in my community. They will take good care of you.”

How Common are Strokes?

According to the Centers for Disease Control, stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in the United States. The American Stroke Association, a division of the American Heart Association, indicates that globally, the number is even more dire: stroke is the second-highest cause of death worldwide and a leading cause of disability.

Covenant Health is proud to be the region’s only stroke-certified hospital network, using the most effective stroke treatments to promote better outcomes. The network has adopted, and first responders have been administering, Tenecteplase (TNK) for ischemic stroke patients. In studies of patients who are medically eligible to take TNK, the drug has proven successful in reducing mortality, while being a more effective option for breaking up blood clots.

Patrick A. Masching, MD, is medical director at Cumberland Medical Center. He is responsible for caring for patients presenting to the hospital’s emergency room and overseeing the medical staff. He urges anyone who thinks they are having a stroke to call 911 because fast diagnosis and treatment is essential, and “time is brain.”

How to Identify Stroke Symptoms

“If you suspect you or a loved one are having a stroke, call 911 and seek immediate medical attention, even if the symptoms have subsided,” Dr. Masching says. “Do not drive yourself.” He recommends remembering the acronym “BE FAST” to identify the signs of a stroke.

  • Balance: Is the person uncoordinated and having difficulty walking?
  • Eyes: Ask the person if they have double or blurred vision.
  • 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: Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence. Are the words slurred?
  • Time for help: If the person shows any of these symptoms, time is important – call 911.

For more information about stroke care and other services at Cumberland Medical Center, visit our website.

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Covenant Health

Headquartered in Knoxville, Tennessee, Covenant Health is a community-owned, healthcare enterprise committed to providing the right care at the right time and place. Covenant Health is the area’s largest employer and has more than 11,000 compassionate caregivers, expert clinicians, and dedicated employees and volunteers.

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