Not only is this week National Nurses’ Week, but the month of May is also National Stroke Awareness Month.
Julie Neidhardt, RN, is proud to be a stroke nurse for the Mercy Health Mobile Stroke Unit in Toledo, OH. Read her firsthand thoughts on her journey in nursing and what being a stroke nurse has been like thus far.
I grew up helping to take care of my grandmother who lived with us and had a disabling stroke. She was paralyzed on one side and had difficulty communicating. And thus, my interest in becoming a stroke nurse began.
So far, my journey as a stroke nurse has been amazing. It is a non-traditional position in a traditional setting. Thus, this has forced me to get out of my comfort zone.
I have had to learn how first responders work outside the controlled environment of the hospital. I have also had to obtain my EMT license and learn to work outside in all kinds of weather. You have to be able to adapt to whatever environment our team finds a person having a stroke in, like a parking lot, grocery store or at home. I now have so much respect for the jobs that first responders do every day.
The most rewarding part of being a stroke nurse is seeing patients who aren’t able to walk, talk or move one side of their body when you first get on the scene. We give them the TPA and then sometimes you see them start to be able to move the body part that they couldn’t before you even arrive at the emergency room.
Sometimes patients get to bypass the emergency room all together and are taken straight to the IR lab where they remove the blood clot. From there, they usually improve right away. Basically, you feel like you have just helped someone get back to their normal life and not a nursing home.
When it comes to strokes, the famous line “time is brain” is absolutely true. The more we can educate people to recognize when someone is having a stroke, the sooner they call for help and that the person can be treated. Faster treatment means saving more brain cells and having less disability.
I’m so excited about the changing technology and new medications that are available for stroke patients. To be able to be on the ground floor of new concepts of caring for people having strokes is exciting. I always wish this had been around for my grandmother. Her life might have been very different if her deficits were lessened by faster treatment.
I hope to be able to provide this service to the Toledo community for a long time and keep doing it better. I would also love if we could add another mobile stroke unit in the future to help more outlying communities.
I have to say that being a part of the mobile stroke unit family is such a huge blessing. I work with the smartest, kindest and most hard-working group of people. From the doctors, to our manager and all the team members. We all have the same mission to give these patients the best opportunity to get the best outcome. Oh, and we have fun being together! It doesn’t get any better!
Read more stories that celebrate our amazing Mercy Health nurses during National Nurses’ Week.
Also, learn about the stroke care services we offer at Mercy Health.