Beating the odds through teamwork
Pam Ivery, employee and stroke patient, North Shore Medical Center
For more than 30 years, Pamela “Pam” Ivery has served as a faithful employee at North Shore Medical Center, sister hospital of Palmetto General Hospital. As a member of the dietary department, she has become a familiar face throughout the hospital. Her co-workers and visitors are frequently greeted by her inviting smile and charismatic personality. However, one day, while setting up lunch in the hospital’s administrative boardroom, Pam did not feel like her usual self. She grabbed her head in agony as she began experiencing the worst headache of her life.
“All of a sudden, my head started hurting like I had never felt before,” she recalls. “Everything went gray, my ears felt like they were plugged, and I could feel increasing pressure in my head.”
In severe pain, Pam made her way to North Shore’s emergency room, where she immediately underwent a CAT scan. The results revealed that she not only had an aneurysm in her brain, but that the worst had happened: it had burst, resulting in a subarachnoid hemorrhage, a serious, life-threatening type of stroke.
In the meantime, word had traveled to the hospital’s administrative team that Pam was being treated as a patient. Manny Linares, CEO of North Shore Medical Center, made arrangements for an emergency transfer to Palmetto General Hospital. While North Shore’s Primary Stroke Center is equipped to stabilize stroke patients, Palmetto’s Comprehensive Stroke Center is able to provide a higher level of care and intervention.
Dr. Ritesh Kaushal, medical director of Palmetto General’s stroke center, accessed Pam’s aneurysm through her groin and successfully stopped the bleeding, restoring normal blood flow and relieving the pressure on her brain. Considering the severity of the neurological trauma she had experienced, the stroke team was relieved when she woke up and was completely cognizant. Dr. Kaushal told Pam that built up stress had most likely caused her aneurysm to burst.
“I am so thankful to be alive,” expresses Pam. Following the surgery, she spent about 10 days being monitored in the hospital’s Neuro Critical Care Unit.
Dr. Kaushal says that when dealing with a subarachnoid hemorrhage, which has such a high mortality rate (about 50%), everyone involved – the intensivists, neurologists, radiologists and neurosurgeon – have to work perfectly together to ensure a positive outcome.
Not only is the multidisciplinary team at Palmetto General Hospital responsible for Pam being able to “walk out” of the hospital, it was also due to the swift actions and coordination of North Shore Medical Center’s staff that led to her prompt treatment.
In just a little over a month, Pam returned to the dietary department at North Shore, working with the friendly demeanor that she’s known for. She has made a full recovery without the need for medication or therapy. Thanks to the expertise of Palmetto General Hospital’s Comprehensive Stroke Center, Pam is able to continue brightening people’s day with her infectious smile and zest for life.