Stroke of Fate Takes Vacationer on a Different Path

Pictured from left to right: Elizabeth Lyle, Dr. Clara Ann Myers, Sally Molpus, Virginia Ezelle and Susan Hart.

Five friends arrived in the Big Apple as planned only to find themselves taking a crucial detour.

An annual New York City trip in November by five women from Jackson, Mississippi, turned into a lifesaving visit to two North Shore-LIJ hospitals not on their original itinerary: Forest Hills and North Shore University hospitals.

Their experience also showcased some down- home southern hospitality done northern style.

After arriving at LaGuardia Airport, the friends made their way to the baggage claim area. That’s when one of them, rheumatologist Clara Ann Myers, MD, began to feel “funny.”

Because she is a doctor, she realized what was happening.

She said, “‘I am having a stroke. Tell George I love him. Tell my children I love them. I love y’all. I am going down,’” recounted her friend Susan Hart.

Mrs. Hart called 911, as the crying friends encircled their friend on the ground.

When the ambulance arrived, Dr. Myers was completely unresponsive. Mrs. Hart and another friend were allowed to accompany her in the response vehicle to Forest Hills Hospital. The remaining friends hopped in a cab and followed.

At Forest Hills, ER staff tended to the patient and her friends, storing their luggage in an empty treatment room, offering emotional support and updating them on Dr. Myers’ condition.

A CT scan showed bleeding in Dr. Myers’ brain from a stroke. She was in critical condition and placed on a ventilator to protect her airway and support respiration.

Her condition warranted a tertiary hospital’s level of care, and Dr. Myers was immediately transferred by ambulance to North Shore University Hospital for neurosurgical intervention. Because the wait for a taxi would have been longer than two hours, the ER staff arranged for Dr. Myers’ distraught friends to also be transported to the new location.

“The Forest Hills EMTs and ER staff were wonderful,” Mrs. Hart said. “They were kind, considerate and patient with us.”

At North Shore University Hospital, the friends again encountered a warm welcome from the Manhasset hospital ER staff, who allowed them to stay with Dr. Myers until a bed was available in the Neuro ICU.

“The staff explained to us everything they were doing in layman’s terms so we would know what was going on,” Mrs. Hart said.

Meanwhile, Dr. Myers’ husband and adult children were making their way as quickly as possible from Jackson, soon arriving at the hospital. Between important procedures,

Dr. Myers had a steady support system of family and friends at her side.

“We are so thankful for medical professionals in your hospital who care and know what it takes to enable a patient in critical condition to survive — loving words from family, touching and squeezing hands, and knowing that the family is a key ingredient to a patient’s recovery,” Mrs. Hart said.

After three weeks in the ICU, Dr. Myers was able to return to Jackson to undergo stroke rehabilitation at Methodist Medical Rehab Center. Now home, she is progressing slowly but steadily.

Both Dr. Myers’ family and her friends are grateful for the care she and they received while she was a patient at Forest Hills and North Shore University hospitals.

“This is an example of the infrastructure in place at the North Shore-LIJ Health System, where two system hospitals, with the help of North Shore-LIJ EMS, collaborated on improving the quality of patient care,” said Rita Mercieca, RN, executive director of Forest Hills Hospital.

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