How local hospital’s award-winning stroke care saved an 83-year-old


HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP) – Eighty-one-year-old Joseph Toper Jr. couldn’t write a little over a year ago after having a stroke last May. He credits Holyoke Medical Center’s award-winning team for saving his life.

“Within a day I was out of here and in rehab,” Toper Jr. told 22News. “They worked so quickly and did such as a good job.”

Toper Jr. said one day when he got home he started to feel a little off.

“I called my wife and I said I really don’t think that I can do very much. I’m starting to slur my words and I’m starting to get a quasi feeling numbness,” he said.

He called an ambulance and was brought to Holyoke Medical Center. That’s where he said the treatment started that saved his life.

“Boy, as soon as I got there they knew what to do,” he said.

Holyoke Medical Center just won five awards in stroke care excellence.

Awards received:

  • American Heart Association/American Stroke Association’s Get With The Guidelines® Stroke Gold Plus & Target: Stroke Honor Roll Elite Plus Quality Achievement Award.
  • Coverdell National Institutes of HealthStroke Scale (NIHSS) Rate of at Least 95 Percent Award. Recognizing HMC for performing NIHSS assessments on at least 95 percent of stroke patients from January 2018-December 2018.
  • Defect-free Care Award. Which recognizes HMC for providing defect-free care for 90 percent or more of its stroke patients.
  • Modified Rankin Scale greater than or equal to 85% Award. Which recognizes HMC as a hospital which completed the Modified Rankin Scale on at least 85% of stroke patients fromJanuary 2018-December 2018.
  • Dysphagia Screening greater than or equal to 95% Award, recognizing HMC for completing dysphagia screening on at least 95% of stroke patients from January 2018-December 2018.

The Manager of Stroke Service at Holyoke Medical Center, Angela Smith, said they focus on individualized stroke patient care.

“We get the patient every element of care that they need every day, every time,” said Smith.

“About every employee in the hospital touches that patient when they come in for a stroke. It really is a team effort,” she said.

Smith is with a patient from the moment they come into the hospital all the way through their post care. She even goes out into the community to educate people on stroke awareness.

She said the acronym used for recognizing a stroke is B.E.F.A.S.T., which means:

  • B: Balance. Does the person have loss of balance?
  • E: Eyes. Has the person lost vision in one or both eyes?
  • F: Face. Does the persons face look uneven?
  • A: Arms. Is one arm hanging down?
  • S: Speech. Is the persons speech slurred? Do they have trouble speaking or seem confused?
  • T: Time. Call 911.

Toper Jr. said he likes to share his story so people will be aware of the signs.

“If we can help someone,” he said. “If we can make someone aware of what stroke is about. Don’t be afraid, it’s not the end of the world. You can live through it.”

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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