Linda Gross was just starting her day with fellow employee Dale Flanagan at KC Drive Away last April when she realized the 71-year-old wasn’t responding. “He was just sitting there,” recalls Gross, who knew the early signs of a stroke from medical training she received years ago. “I had enough knowledge to realize that this was an urgent situation.”
Flanagan, who was unable to talk or move his right side, says he was aware something was terribly wrong but couldn’t communicate anything to Gross. “I couldn’t write, move my right side or talk,” he says. “My whole body felt like a dead weight.”
Gross quickly returned to the office where she placed a 9-1-1 call; the paramedics arrived within minutes. Flanagan, who says for a split second he recovered feeling in the right side of his body, was taken to Research Medical Center, part of the HCA Midwest Health System, and wheeled into the ER, where the stroke team immediately went into action.
Thanks to Gross’s quick thinking, Flanagan made it to the ER in time to receive tPA, a drug that when administered within three hours of having a stroke can help break up blood clots. Consulting neurologist Iftekhar Ahmed, MD, gave Flanagan the drug. The physician later found a severe blockage in Flanagan’s carotid artery and called in Joe Cates, MD, a Kansas City Vascular and General Surgery surgeon at Research Medical Center, who operated on him.
Research Medical Center presented Gross with a Brain Saver certificate on Wednesday morning from the American Heart and American Stroke Associations and the Bi-State Stroke Consortium in recognition of her heroic actions in getting Dale Flanagan critical medical attention.
“The best thing anyone can do if they’re experiencing the warning signs of a stroke is to get to your nearest accredited stroke and heart attack center,” stresses Flanagan, who was lucky indeed to have co-worker Linda Gross by his side that spring morning.
Photo: Jennifer Parreira (L), stroke program coordinator at Research Medical Center, with Brain Saver Certificate recipient Linda Gross.