Fletcher Allen, a Vermont university hospital and medical center, serves all of
Vermont and the northern New York region. Located in Burlington, Fletcher Allen is a regional, academic healthcare center and teaching hospital in alliance with the University of Vermont.
Kristin Laberge, Stroke Survivor
It was a headache. Or that’s what 42-year-old Kristin Laberge thought, as she washed her hair one morning last May.
She took an ibuprofen and proceeded with her plans for a day of shopping in Burlington with her mother Janet and two daughters, three-year-old Maddie and 10-week-old Katie.
That night, Kristin went to bed early, still not feeling quite right. At one point she came downstairs to pump breast milk for the baby.
Today, she remembers none of this.
|Later that night, Kristin’s husband Jim woke up to a choking sound. When he turned on the light, Kristin was half sitting, her right leg on the bed, her left leg on the floor -- as if she didn’t know how to get out of bed.
He called 911.
As part of Fletcher Allen’s partnership with community physicians and hospitals around the region, a patient is transferred to Fletcher Allen when physicians at the local hospital determine that the patient will benefit from the specialty expertise of an academic medical center.
In this case, Kristin was first taken to Porter Medical Center, where, after determining that she was suffering a severe stroke, they called for
an ambulance to take her to Fletcher Allen’s intensive care unit.
Here, a multidisciplinary team led by Chris Commichau, M.D., who has specialized training in neurocritical care, and resident physician Mari Tobita, M.D., closely monitored Kristin’s neurologic condition.
Kristin further benefited from the fact that Fletcher Allen has a stroke program which provides an interdisciplinary approach to the treatment of patients with cerebrovascular disease.
Providers in the stroke program include
Said Dr. Commichau, "Patients benefit from the many levels of expertise our stroke program offers. Scientific research has shown that patient outcomes are better when they receive care in such a specialized setting."
After an extensive work-up, Kristin’s doctors determined that her stroke had been caused by a blockage in her carotid artery. Up to that point, she had been healthy, with no known medical issues.
Gradually, Kristin’s condition stabilized and she began to show signs of improvement.
After several days, she began receiving inpatient rehabilitation care, with a multidisciplinary team of physicians, nurses and rehabilitation staff working closely to manage her care.
At first, she could only speak a few words, and couldn’t move her right side. Slowly but surely, Kristin learned to feed herself, to tie her shoes with one hand, and to dress herself.
With each achievement, she demanded more of herself. When she was no longer in a wheelchair, she began working on improving strength in her right leg.
Her husband Jim was by her side throughout her experience.
After about six weeks, she returned to her parents’ house and continued outpatient therapy with a Speech Language Pathologist, Physical Therapist, and Occupational Therapist.
Today, Kristin can walk and speak clearly; she continues to have ongoing medical and rehabilitation therapy under the supervision of her outpatient rehabilitation team.
"I am so glad that I ended up at Fletcher Allen, where I got the best treatment possible," she said. "I want others who go through this to know that with a lot of hard work, support from family and friends, and excellent health care, you can get better."