Skilled emergency care key to accurate diagnosis Kathleen P.

It was a Thursday afternoon when Kathleen P., a 47-year-old resident of Boyle Heights, suddenly felt confused and dizzy while she was driving. Next, her vision blurred. She pulled over and managed to get to her phone. Something was clearly wrong. Her vision was now completely impaired so she had no idea who she just dialed. She heard a woman’s voice on the other end of the phone.

“Hey, I’m not feeling too well,” Kathleen garbled. “Something is wrong.”Woman with friend

It just so happened that Kathleen dialed her daughter’s number. “What’s going on?” her daughter asked frantically.

“I don’t know,” Kathleen replied. “Something’s wrong. Who are you?”

Her daughter told her who it was and that she was going to come to her. After locating Kathleen through the phone’s location, her daughter and son both drove to Kathleen as fast as they could.

When her children arrived, Kathleen was still very confused and couldn’t clearly say what was happening to her. She didn’t even recognize her son.

Then it dawned on her daughter. Her heart raced as she said, “Maybe you had a stroke.”

They knew they had to get Kathleen to the emergency department, so they headed to Adventist Health White Memorial.

Emergency care is one of the most vital services we offer to our community. Our 24-hour emergency department (ED) always has a physician on site. And our ED has been designated as a specialty center for the treatment of heart attack patients and an Emergency Department Approved for Pediatrics (EDAP) facility.

In addition, Adventist Health White Memorial’s emergency department is uniquely qualified to handle an emergency case like Kathleen’s because it has been designated by the State of California and Los Angeles County as a Stroke Receiving Center and a STEMI Receiving Center. These designations make us a vital resource for the East Los Angeles and Boyle Heights communities.

We are also the only hospital in Los Angeles to receive the Lantern Award by the Emergency Nurses Association for having an emergency department that exemplifies exceptional practice and innovative performance in the areas of nursing, leadership, practice, education, advocacy, and research.

Kathleen also knew that she wouldn’t be turned away when she came, even though she didn’t have health insurance. In fact, she had gallbladder surgery at Adventist Health White Memorial previously. She trusted us and she knew our medical staff would be attentive and caring to her needs.

When Kathleen arrived at the emergency department her symptoms had thankfully begun to subside. However, considering the serious nature of her emergency, she was admitted and the medical staff ran tests to figure out what exactly happened to her.

All her tests for a stroke or traumatic brain injury came back negative. But the question remained, why did Kathleen suffer blurred vision, confusion and memory loss? A few more tests were run the next day, and eventually our neurologist diagnosed Kathleen with transient global amnesia (TGA). TGA is an episode of confusion that comes on suddenly in a person who is otherwise alert.

During a TGA episode, a person is unable to create new memory, so the memory of recent events disappears. You can’t remember where you are or how you got there. You may not remember anything about what’s happening in the moment. You may keep repeating the same questions because you don’t remember the answers you’ve just been given. You may also draw a blank when asked to remember things that happened a day, a month or even a year ago.

Episodes of TGA always get better slowly over a few hours. Neurologists don’t yet know exactly how TGA happens, but research points to brief venous hypertension in the brain. This temporarily deprives the brain’s two memory-forming hippocampi of oxygen. During recovery, an individual may begin to remember events and circumstances. Transient global amnesia isn’t serious, but it can still be frightening.

Kathleen was discharged on Saturday and was expected to be fine moving forward. In fact, TGA only affects between three and eight of every 100,000 people each year.

“What White Memorial means to me is life changing,” Kathleen said when asked about her emergency care. “I’m really appreciative of their care and the services that they gave me. You guys care. You are going out of your way to show compassion to all the sick and you’re trying to attend to us as fast and as quickly as possible.”

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