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Beloved Mother, Wife Inspires Advanced Care for Stroke

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Beloved Mother, Wife
Inspires Advanced Care for Stroke

An endowment for advanced stroke care exists to honor the memory of Swadesh Khurana.
Swadesh Khurana had a special gift for bringing people together. She was an adored member and leader of her community, contributing a great deal of time and effort to her church, Punjabi Culture Club of Houston, and other organizations to boost appreciation for Indian religion and culture. At work, she was a key member of a multi-disciplinary team that strived for clinical excellence and was pivotal in shaping mental health initiatives. Swadesh's family considered her to be "the family glue" and she did everything in her power to nurture and care for her family.

"She always put her heart and soul into everything she did," says Sapandeep K. Singh, MD, Swadesh's daughter-in-law. "She was the core of our family – the one who kept everyone and everything together. She was very giving, loving and vibrant."

Stroke's Sudden Symptoms
Swadesh was very healthy and vivacious – and had never experienced symptoms of a stroke. But, tragically, in October 2007 the unexpected occurred. "She was eating dinner when she suddenly said she had the worst headache she had ever experienced," Dr. Singh says. "She had difficulty talking, was confused and then had trouble walking."

Her husband, Balwant, recognized Swadesh's stroke symptoms and called 911. "My father was close to Methodist Willowbrook and wanted to go there, but it was not a stroke center at that time," says Dr. Singh. Swadesh was rushed to the Texas Medical Center. She was immediately taken to the operating room for a hemorrhagic stroke; however, the bleeding in the brain proved to be too extensive.

As the Khuranas grieved the loss of their matriarch, they wondered if a stroke center in their community would have made a life-changing difference. "Time is brain – the sooner you can get to a stroke center and the clot can be dissolved or removed, the less damage to the brain and the greater chance for meaningful recovery," Dr. Singh says. "Having a certified stroke center here in Northwest Houston, coupled with community outreach and preventative education, could help spare other families
our grief."

Identifying Signs
of Stroke
Strokes happen when blood flow to the brain stops. It's a medical emergency. This "brain attack" begins to kill brain cells within minutes. An ischemic stroke – the most common and treatable type – is caused by a blood clot. Hemorrhagic strokes are caused by a broken blood vessel that bleeds into the brain.

Call 911 if you notice one or more of these stroke signs:

  • Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg(especially on one side).
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding.
  • Sudden trouble seeing.
  • Sudden trouble walking or dizziness.
  • Sudden, severe headache with no known cause.
Shared Vision
The Khuranas soon found that Willowbrook shared their vision for close-to-home advanced stroke care. "Our long-term vision is that the signs of stroke will become as recognizable as the signs of heart attack," says Valerie Howell, RN, director of Critical Care at Methodist Willowbrook. "Today, most people know that chest pains and shortness of breath are heart attack symptoms and to come to the Emergency Room immediately. We need to raise the awareness of stroke symptoms to that same high level since early medical treatment can reduce the risk of death or disability."

Endowment to Support Stroke Program
Methodist Willowbrook's vision is now driven by Swadesh's legacy. The Khurana family has made an endowment to support enhanced stroke care at Methodist Willowbrook. Money will be used to establish a fellowship that will be awarded annually to an internal applicant based on his or her unique and research-based plan to advance stroke care at the hospital. The first fellowship will be awarded this summer.

Methodist Willowbrook has since pursued and received disease specific certification as a Primary Stroke Center from The Joint Commission. This is a prestigious certification that recognizes hospitals that offer best evidenced-based practices and services, improving outcomes for stroke patients.

"Advancing stroke care at Methodist Willowbrook Hospital is a priority. We are proud of our stroke certification and are eager to select and implement ideas from the fellowship program to continue evolving our program," Howell says. "We feel an obligation to our community to provide close-to-home advanced stroke care. And the Khurana family is additional motivation to bring our vision into reality."