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Friday, March 22 , 2019, 6:49 pm | Fair 59º

Your Health

‘Stroke-Ready’ Santa Ynez Valley Cottage Hospital Makes a Difference in ‘Christmas Miracle’

Janice Mathews
(Cottage Health photo)

It was a normal work day in Solvang when it happened. Janice Mathews saw an old friend from high school, and she suddenly forgot her friend’s name.

Mathews knew something was wrong. An immediate fear struck her, and she thought I’ve lost something.

“It was around Christmas in 2017, and I was at my job in the bank,” she recalled. “A friend of mine came up, and suddenly I couldn’t remember her name, and I became very confused. And then a co-worker approached and my memory of her name was gone too.”

Immediately, Mathews’ colleague took her to the Santa Ynez Valley Cottage Hospital emergency department, and she was quickly diagnosed with a stroke and given tPA stroke medication, a powerful blood thinner.

Tissue Plasminogen Activator (tPA) is a great advancement for stroke victims, and timely treatment with it can prevent blood clots from expanding and permit blood to flow to the affected area of the brain in ischemic strokes, helping to prevent permanent brain damage. More than 80 percent of strokes are ischemic, which means they are caused by blood clots interrupting blood flow in an area of the brain.

Santa Ynez Valley Cottage Hospital is certified as a “Stroke Ready” facility by Santa Barbara County Emergency Services, which means that when a patient arrives in the ER with stroke symptoms, stroke protocol is implemented with a CT scan and lab work done immediately.

Mathews was no stranger to Santa Ynez Valley Cottage Hospital. All three of her children had been born there.

In fact, her family has strong ties with the hospital. They had moved to the Santa Ynez Valley in 1957 when she was a small child, and her parents were among the very first donors to help establish the hospital. She has a fond history with the hospital, and this time was no exception.

“With the stroke, I suddenly had a lot of fear,” Mathews said. “At SYVCH, the staff treated me so gently and were so respectful of the fear I was experiencing.

“They were never dismissive, and when I needed something, they were right there.”

From SYVCH, Mathews was transported by ambulance to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital, and by the time she arrived, her memory had returned. She felt like she had recovered, all within the drive time from Santa Ynez to Santa Barbara.

When asked if she knew where she was, she answered, “Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital.” Her thoughts were clear.

Mathews wanted to go home as soon as possible, but her neurologist, Dr. Philip Delio, thought it wise to monitor her a while longer. After two days of steady progress, she returned home to rest and recuperate.

“I made a total recovery thanks to Cottage,” Mathews said. “I call it my Christmas miracle!”

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