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Service comes at a good time for Peter
Waikato Hospital yesterday celebrated five months of its new stroke service – one that is becoming increasingly important due to higher incidence of stroke in the Waikato.
The Organised Stroke Service team opened their doors in May, and are proud of the way the service has been steadily developing since.
Today they had time to take a breather, congratulate each other and thank all their supporters in making the service a huge success to date.
Clinical director Dr Peter Wright (neurologist) emphasised the value of the 'whole team' approach, which has been embraced by the service, as well as the staff who have made it happen.
The Organised Stroke Service brings together nursing, allied health and medical staff from both acute and rehabilitation services.
"It is about working to get the best outcome for each stroke patient, bringing all the resources we have to ensure they get the best care.
"As a result, every year in this region we will work towards preventing 125 people from having a stroke after an initial event, 60 people having a heart attack after a stroke and 60 people ending up either dead or dependant on others after stroke.
"By emergency 'clot-busting' treatment, we hope to help 10 extra people recover fully from the stroke they came in with."
Dr Wright said new approaches would also reduce the length of time people have to stay in hospital, and that most TIA patients could be treated as day-stay cases.
Health Waikato chief operating officer Jan Adams thanked everybody for the work that has gone into the service and said she was impressed by the "energy, enthusiasm and passion" of all the staff involved.
One person who knows more about the value of the Organised Stroke Service than he would like, is 61-year-old Fairfield College teacher Peter Cawkwell.
Mr Cawkwell suffered his first stroke at the back of his brain on 24 August, while marking student assignments at home.
"Suddenly, without any warning whatsoever, I felt very dizzy and only managed to move a short distance before I fell, blinded, nauseous and vomiting. I was surprised to remain conscious.
Mr Cawkwell spent hours in the Emergency Department before being admitted to Ward 5 at Waikato Hospital.
""The stroke had highly increased my senses to light and sound, and what I needed was a complete blackout of both. I was fortunate to be placed in a single unit, which I believe assisted my recovery greatly."
He was transferred to the rehabilitation ward and home within one week.
However, just 12 hours later, Mr Cawkwell suffered another stroke.
When Mr Cawkwell arrived at Waikato Hospital's Emergency Department for the second time in two weeks, Dr Wright was on hand to give him and his wife Gail the facts, and fast track him back to Ward 5 and onto a drip.
"This prompt action probably saved my life," said Mr Cawkwell.
"I have had continuous daily visits from different facets of the Organised Stroke Service's whole team: doctors, house surgeons, neurologists, nurses, dietitians and rehabilitation physiotherapists.
"The interweaving and teamwork undertaken by members of each of these specialties is invaluable. They share and work together to do what is best for their patients – it's a fantastic service."
Mr Cawkwell and his family are now playing the waiting game until he receives another CT scan in two weeks time.
The news they are hoping for is that his blood clot has disappeared, or is at least dissipating.
"Suffering two strokes has changed the way I live, in that I am always fearful of whether it might happen again," he said.
Mr Cawkwell describes himself as a healthy, clean living person and is an active hockey player. "I lead a healthy life, and that is the frustrating part."
He said the best place for him now is in the quiet Hamilton suburb where he lives, spending time with his Jack Russell.
"I thank the whole Waikato District Health Board's Organised Stroke Service team for saving my life and getting me out of hospital as soon as safe and feasible."
The Organised Stroke Service comprises a 10-bed acute stroke unit and 10-bed rehabilitation stroke unit. These are organised into a single service to deliver optimal care to stroke patients.
NB: Photos of Mr Cawkwell and yesterday afternoon's celebration are available at www.waikatodhb.govt.nz or upon request to Amy Thomsen.
Date: October 21