NHS worker saved by colleague after suffering stroke on rehabilitation ward

Caroline Swan was on shift on a stroke rehabilitation ward at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital when she began feeling unwell.

Glasgow NHS worker saved by colleague after having stroke while working on stroke rehabilitation ward NHSGCC

A Glasgow NHS worker saved her colleague’s life after she suffered stroke while working on a stroke ward.

Caroline Swan was on shift on a stroke rehabilitation ward at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital on January 26 when she began feeling unwell.

The health care support worker noticed something was wrong when she was unable to get her glove off.

Luckily for Caroline, charge nurse Sharon Woods noticed quickly that something wasn’t right.

She said: “Caroline was sitting in a chair and just staring. When I asked her if she was OK she couldn’t speak. There and then I knew.”

Calling ahead to make sure the emergency stroke team was ready, Sharon got Caroline on to a trolley and ran to A&E. Her quick thinking meant Caroline received the interventions she needed within 45 minutes.

And because of that intervention, within two hours Caroline’s speech was beginning to return, within days she was feeling well, and she is now back at home in Thornliebank with her husband Alan.

Caroline is already planning to return to work so she can help others on their rehabilitation journey following a stroke.

“Sharon saved my life – it’s as simple as that,” Caroline said. “I was coming out of a room and couldn’t get my glove off. I just kept staring at it and thinking ‘something’s wrong’.

“I can vaguely remember being put on to a trolley, going through corridors, and then going for a scan. I remember then thinking something was really wrong.

“But it honestly feels like my stars were aligned that day. I wasn’t even meant to be working, then Sharon found me really quickly and got me the help I needed.

“Because of her and the rest of the team who took care of me, I recovered really well. I’ve lost my sense of taste, and I need to wear a monitor, but I’m feeling well and hoping to be back at work soon.

“I’ll never be able to thank them enough for what they did for me.”

“The care I received was just amazing,” she said. “I thought it would be weird, given that I worked with everyone and I know them so well, but they were brilliant.

“They just treated me like any other patient and looked after me really well. Everyone was so nice, and I felt so safe. I can’t thank them enough.”

Sharon was glad to be in the right place at the right time, but she didn’t see anything unusual in the care everybody gave Caroline.

“You don’t expect something like this to happen to a colleague, so to begin with I was quite shocked. But we take care of people – we’re nurses after all, so that’s what we all did.

“I’m just so glad that everything turned out so well for Caroline.”

Rebecca Fulton, lead nurse for the older people and stroke services, said: “I’m so proud of the team. Despite the fact the patient in this case was one of our staff, everything just kicked in and people knew exactly what to do.

“In fact, being a close-knit team was probably the critical factor here, and why Caroline has made such a positive recovery.

“I’m delighted that in this case everything worked out so well, and that Caroline will be back with us soon.”

Rebecca stressed that time really is of the essence when someone is suspected of having a stroke, and she encouraged people to familiarise themselves with the signs of stroke so they have a better idea of when to act.

She said: “It is well documented that the quicker a patient can get to hospital and receive treatment, the better the chance of a positive outcome.

“Because of that time imperative, learning the signs of stroke, and being able to act quickly in the event of one, really can be a life-saver.”

Caroline is well aware of how lucky she was that day – and hopes others will learn the signs of stroke so they can act fast too.

“I was so glad that I was at work – because of that I was seen quickly, and that was the key thing here.

“Please, if you do anything today, get to know the signs of stroke so you can help others, like Sharon helped me.

To remember the signs of stroke, all you need to do is say FAST. The FAST acronym (Face, Arms, Speech, Time) is a test to quickly identify if someone is having a stroke.

·      Face weakness: Can the person smile?

·      Arm weakness: Can the person raise both arms?

·      Speech problems: Can the person speak clearly and understand what you say?

·      Time to call 999: if you see any of these signs.

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