For many years, Beverly Willard, a single parent, had little time for travel. When she wasn't working full time in the insurance industry, she was running her daughter Sabrina to sports activities, and bringing her younger daughter, Tammy, along to enjoy the fun.
Tammy uses a wheelchair and, though she doesn't hear or speak, she connects with her smile and everybody loves her. "Tammy loved going to Sabrina's games. I had her at home with me until she moved into a group home at age 22," explains Beverly. Her firstborn, Sabrina, turned her passion for sports into a career as a successful physical trainer.
With her daughters grown and out of the house, Beverly at the age of 65 began to look ahead to the next phase of her life — retirement and the chance to do some traveling. But a medical crisis in February 2016 put those plans and her life at risk.
Beverly was working at her second job at a local department store, when co-workers noticed that her speech was jumbled and called 911. Arriving in minutes, the ambulance crew recognized a stroke and notified Doylestown Hospital with a stroke alert. Stroke experts were prepped and ready when Beverly arrived at the hospital. She received an intravenous dose of the clot-busting medication tPA, and went directly to the cardiac catheterization lab. There, interventional cardiologist Joseph McGarvey, MD, used a revolutionary treatment called Intra-Arterial Thrombectomy (IAT), a procedure where a tiny tube and mechanical stent were threaded through Beverly's groin artery to the blockage, which was in her brain in the artery behind her eye, causing a stroke or brain attack. Then, using the retrievable stent, the surgeon physically removed the clot and stopped Beverly's ischemic stroke.
"I started to speak, and my words sounded right," says Beverly, who remained in the hospital for one week to recover. "The nurses, neurologists and cardiologists were great. I'm independent, so they watched me and were always there if I needed them."
Beverly took part in physical, speech and occupational therapy. "The therapists were reassuring, answered my questions and helped me in any way they could," Beverly adds. "I wanted to improve my handwriting, and they gave me special exercises."
Other than still wishing her handwriting were a little bit better, Beverly is feeling great and planning her next big adventure. Minutes matter when treating a stroke and she is thankful to have had this lifesaving procedure right in her community.
"It's just amazing. My grandmother had a stroke and died within five weeks." Beverly adds gratefully, "If everyone hadn't been so great, and if Doylestown Health didn't have IAT, that could have been me."
Beverly's Story: More than Stroke Care [Video]
About Stroke Care at Doylestown Health
Doylestown Hospital follows national guidelines that can greatly improve long-term outcomes for stroke patients. The Joint Commission awarded Doylestown Hospital with the Advanced Certification for Primary Stroke Centers in recognition of our commitment to excellence in stroke care. As part of this multidisciplinary program, Doylestown Health interventional cardiologists perform an innovative non-surgical stroke treatment for large vessel blockages through Intra-Arterial Thrombectomy (IAT) to remove a stroke-causing clot thus resolving stroke symptoms immediately.