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Conrad Corriveau, maintenance manager, Saint Raphael Campus Facilities and Engineering, returned to work 10 days after suffering a stroke. He credits his recovery to speaking up when something was wrong and the quick action and expertise of many people at the hospital.

Employee’s advice: In case of emergency, break silence

The most common stroke symptoms can easily be remembered by the letters BE FAST:

Balance loss
Eyes (blurred vision)
Face drooping
Arm (or leg) weakness
Speech problems
Time (call 911 immediately – if in the hospital, dial 155).

Conrad Corriveau knows he’s lucky, in many ways.

But it was more than luck that helped the Saint Raphael Campus maintenance manager one day last November. During a meeting with vendors, Corriveau realized he was slurring his words. He made it through the meeting, but on the way back to his office, his left side started going numb, and he dropped his water bottle three times.

“I thought, ‘What’s wrong with me?’” Corriveau said. “By the time I got to my office, my symptoms were progressing.”

He told one of the electricians he works with to have his colleague Tracey Watts call a medical emergency code.

“I panicked for a minute, but then dialed 155 from the sticker on the phone that’s there as a reminder,” said Watts, a maintenance systems specialist. “I told the operator exactly where we were in the basement, and within minutes, there were people coming from all directions.”

The people were members of the SRC Rapid Response Team, who quickly determined Corriveau could be having a stroke and rushed him to the Emergency Department. There, ED clinicians connected with Stroke Center vascular neurology experts via Telestroke. Corriveau was eligible for and received tenecteplase – a clot-busting medication. An ambulance brought him to the York Street Campus for further acute stroke treatment from the stroke team and neurosurgical interventionalists. Corriveau had a thrombectomy – surgery to remove the clot. 

The whole response was so fast that by the time Corriveau’s family members arrived at the ED, he was already in the York Street Campus Neuro ICU, recovering from his treatment. 

While Corriveau is lucky to work in a hospital, particularly one with a nationally recognized stroke program, he and his fellow employees did a lot of things right. When Corriveau realized something was wrong, he spoke up. Watts panicked initially, but quickly composed herself and called 155. She praised the SRC operators, who kept her calm and asked specific questions to guide the Rapid Response Team. Thanks to that team, ED physicians and staff, and experts with the Stroke Program, Corriveau was back to work within10 days, with minimal after-effects.

The quick action Corriveau and his colleague took allowed him to receive time-sensitive interventions to minimize the effects of his stroke.

“I know people who have had severe complications from stroke,” Corriveau said. “I feel very fortunate. My advice to anyone is that if you feel like something is wrong, say something. Don’t wait too long.”