Tim Boyea--Stroke Survivor


It was a warning sign: the disorienting shock of jumbled vision as 44-year-old Tim Boyea prepared to tee off in a golf tournament. A minute later, his vision returned to normal.

But when it happened again one early morning two weeks later, his vision never returned to normal. Tim staggered around the house, bumping into furniture, not knowing what was wrong and unable to think clearly.

Then he collapsed.

He was taken by ambulance to Alice Hyde Medical Center, an affiliate of Fletcher Allen, in Malone, New York.

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There, Tim was evaluated by Christian Lamarre, MD, FACEP, who suspected a stroke and called Fletcher Allen’s stroke team. Using telemedicine – a technology in which medical information is transmitted onto a two-way screen – University of Vermont Medical Group Neurologist Christopher Commichau, MD, and the stroke team were able to talk to Dr. Lamarre and Tim and assess Tim’s symptoms.

Dr. Commichau recommended that Dr. Lamarre give Tim tissue plasminogen activator (t-PA) to help dissolve a suspected clot in a vital blood vessel in the brain.

Tim was placed in an ambulance to come to Fletcher Allen. When his heart stopped in the ambulance, the emergency medical technicians administered CPR and drove Tim back to Alice Hyde, where he was stabilized and placed on a respirator.

Once stabilized, Tim was transported to Fletcher Allen’s intensive care unit, where Dr. Commichau was waiting. Tim was comatose, with severe neurological problems, confirming the stroke team’s diagnosis – and the need to act quickly.

Interventional Neuroradiologist Grant Linnell, DO, threaded a catheter through an artery in Tim’s leg and up to the blood vessels of the brain. Using clot-dissolving medication and a special device, he was able to remove the blockage in the artery.

Four days after being admitted to Fletcher Allen in a coma, Tim walked out our doors on his own.

While he remembers virtually nothing of his ordeal, he knows that he is lucky to be alive, and he is grateful that he lives in a place where he had access to the specialty care that saved his life.

"Knowing how serious things were," he says, "I’m really thankful that I got the care I needed."

Fletcher Allen’s stroke team provides comprehensive multidisciplinary care, with rapid diagnosis and treatment of patients suffering from acute stroke.

Fletcher Allen is hoping to partner with area hospitals to create an integrated system of acute stroke care, which will allow our neurologists to remotely examine patients and review imaging studies in area hospitals via a telemedicine connection, in order to make recommendations to regional providers regarding diagnosis and treatment, and, if appropriate, provide advice regarding the use of clot-busting drugs.

Fletcher Allen was one of five academic medical centers in the country to receive funding from the National Institutes of Health for a secondary stroke prevention study that attempts to prevent heart attack and stroke in patients who are in a pre-diabetic state known as insulin resistance.

The Joint Commission – the nation’s premier health care accreditation organization – has recognized our Stroke Center with a Certification of Distinction for Primary Stroke Centers, marking our exceptional efforts to improve outcomes for stroke care.