IU Health Arnett doctor receives "Golden Brain Award" for helping several patients recover from stroke

IU Health Arnett Hospital is celebrating one doctor for his life-saving leadership. Dr. Marc Estes is responsible for helping nearly a dozen stroke patients recover last year.

Posted: Jan 21, 2021 7:38 AM
Updated: Jan 21, 2021 4:57 PM

LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) -- One IU Health Arnett doctor is being recognized for his life-saving actions. Nearly a dozen patients who've suffered from a stroke within the last year can thank Dr. Marc Estes, chief of emergency medicine at IU Health Arnett, and his team for their recovery.

When you're suffering from a stroke, every second is crucial for recovery. Dr. Estes has become an expert in quickly administering the aid needed to help patients heal.

Two-million brain cells die every minute when a person is suffering from a stroke. While our bodies have hundreds of billions of brain cells, they do not recover so once they're gone, they're gone. That's why IU Health created a time goal for health workers to meet when it comes to administering the medication that helps regulate blood flow.

Healthcare workers who can administer the stroke medication within 45 minutes are given the Bronze Brain Award and workers that can give it within 30 minutes receive the Golden Brain Award. Both awards come in the form of a tiny brain-shaped pin that can be worn on their work badge.

Dr. Estes has met that 30-minute goal every time he's helped a stroke patient within the last year.

"Last year we gave TPA in under 30 minutes and I gave 11 of the 12," said Estes.

The process of administering the TPA medication takes several steps that must take place before the patient can receive the drug.

"To do it in under 30 minutes is a real challenge," said Estes. "You need to have an IV placed, you have to have a physical exam, you have to have a CT scan, the CT scans have to be read, you have to mix the drug you have to do a lot of things to get this drug in."

Because of his track record of successfully administering the medication to 100% of the stroke patients he cared for last year, IU Health leaders have decided to coin Dr. Estes the Golden Brain Award Champion of 2020. He credits his entire team for working well together, but he does appreciate the recognition.

"Some of its just luck that I happen to be working when those patients happen to come in," said Estes. "It wasn't anything special that I did in particular, it just was a good team and we have a process to do it."

"I don't think it's really luck," said Margie Christopher, IU Health Stroke Program Coordinator. "I think it's a commitment to excellent care and the care of stroke patients and the coaching of the whole staff."

She oversees stroke treatment across IU Health hospitals in and around Tippecanoe County. She's impressed with Dr. Estes' initiative. She said this time goal is not only benefiting patients but also health care workers.

"It's fun for the staff, you know there's a lot of stressful things going on in hospitals right now so a little bit of fun is really helpful for them," said Christopher.

When it comes to recovery, patients being proactive can be the difference between recovering from a stroke or not. This TPA medication only works within four hours of having a stroke. If it's given after that four-hour time frame it can cause excessive bleeding in the brain.

Christopher is encouraging people to follow the B.E.F.A.S.T acronym. If you're experiencing any one of these symptoms, it could be a sign you're suffering from a stroke.

B - Balance, watch for sudden loss of balance

E - Eyes, check for vision loss

F - Face, look for an uneven smile

A - Arm, check if one arm is weak

S - Speech, listen for slurred speech

T - Time, call 911 right away

Christopher said it's important people get themselves to the hospital if these symptoms occur. She said she's known several patients who tried to take a nap to relieve the symptoms, however, not being under hospital care, can make the recovery much harder.
She said the age for people who suffer from strokes has lowered since the pandemic. Young people who contract Covid-19 have been hospitalized as the virus can cause blood clots, which can trigger a stroke.

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