“I’m very, very lucky,” shares Chris Coleman, a family nurse practitioner in The Outer Banks Hospital Emergency Department (TOBH ED). Coleman, a 10-year veteran in the ED, was working a normal shift back in May 2019 when she stood up and suddenly experienced a headache and dizziness. She didn’t feel well but attributed it to not eating or drinking enough water that day. “We were very busy that shift, but then all of a sudden I was out,” she recalls. Coleman experienced a hemorrhagic stroke caused by a weakened vessel that ruptured and bled into the surrounding brain tissue.

“I can easily see how folks stay home, because you don’t automatically think it’s a stroke. You may attribute it to a variety of things and keep going. But you can’t; you have to address it,” emphasizes Coleman. “I think about the fact that if I were at home when the symptoms occurred, I probably would have laid down and had a very different outcome.”

Coleman’s coworkers quickly realized the situation and immediately implemented the code stroke training and protocols of a certified Acute Stroke Ready Hospital. “The team in the ED that day was excellent,“ said Linda Smith, RN, ED assistant nurse manager and stroke coordinator for TOBH. “Their quick thinking along with our stroke protocols and training were reflected in the efficient care that Chris received.”

“I always look for an opportunity to say thank you,” says Coleman. “Dr. Nicole Saffell and the team in the ED, the radiologist, the transport team the Vidant Health neurosurgery team and our rehabilitation group are all spectacular and not only saved my life but my way of life… they did everything they could to get me through.”