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  • David, stroke patient

    David’s Fast Memorial Stroke Treatment

    “I never thought this would happen to me,” said David, 39, who had a stroke.

    David’s doctor, Haris Kamal, MD, neuro-interventionalist, Memorial Neuroscience Institute, says that we used to think stroke was a disease of the elderly but not anymore. Doctors are seeing strokes in all age groups.

    With his arm locking up and trouble with his speech, David called 911.

    In the Memorial ER, brain scans revealed a blood vessel blockage. Dr. Kamal and his Memorial team worked fast to open David’s blocked artery in under 15 minutes. David showed immediate signs of improvement.

    A wonderful recovery like David’s drives all of us to do this daily, Dr. Kamal says, adding that Memorial routinely treats patients more quickly than national standards with quality outcomes. That’s why Memorial is a Florida and national leader in stroke treatment.

    David is living proof. “I need to be here for my kids,” he says, adding that Dr. Kamal gave him peace and reassurance that everything would be all right.

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  • Memorial's ALLIES program participants holding art and fruit basket

    A Second 'Home' for Senior Citizens

    It’s easy to overlook the Boulevard Heights Community Center. It’s a nondescript building on a residential side street in a west Hollywood neighborhood, the kind of place that easily blends in with its surroundings.

    But, for Elizabeth Frantzen, it’s “home,” and what goes on inside its walls is critical to her health and well-being. The Hollywood senior citizen is part of Memorial Healthcare System’s A.L.L.I.E.S (Adults Live Life Independently, Educated, and Safe) program that meets each weekday at Boulevard Heights. She goes so far as to credit the people and services she receives with helping her out of a deep depression after her son’s accidental death.

    “Depression and loneliness are common feelings for our seniors,” said Tim Curtin, executive director for Community Services at Memorial Healthcare System. “We provide opportunities that get them out of their homes and into a place that exercises their brains, bodies, and spirit.”

    Curtin says Memorial knew seniors and their mental health were especially vulnerable during COVID-19, with some doing little more than watching TV during the pandemic. At that time, Memorial organized appropriately-distanced gatherings at T.Y. Park to provide a respite from the isolation most were feeling.

    The positive effect during a difficult time empowered Memorial to supercharge an existing seniors’ program to maximize its impact. Daily activities at the community center now include health-focused presentations, ESOL (English to Speakers of Other Languages) classes, mental health services, exercise and fitness instruction, cognitive games, and arts & crafts opportunities. The healthcare system has partnered with Broward County Transit’s TOPS program to provide transportation and Meals on Wheels for daily lunches. On some days, as many as 100 seniors receive services and participate in activities.

    “This is a place they can go to see friends, learn new things, and get exercise they wouldn’t otherwise be interested in doing,” said Carmen Marin, a team leader at Memorial Healthcare System. “When they return home, they do with a smile on their face and happy that there was a purpose to their day.”

    The nonprofit Memorial Foundation, in collaboration with the Community Foundation of Broward County, has been underwriting the expenses of the A.L.L.I.E.S program for more than five years. Funding from Memorial in the last year alone was more than $300,000 and includes the salaries of full-time employees, support staff, and supplies needed each day at the community center.

    “The feedback we’ve received from both the staff and participants makes it clear we’re changing lives. We’re thankful for our generous donors that enable us to fund this effort year after year,” said Kevin Janser, president of the Memorial Foundation.

    It’s an undertaking that continues to pay dividends for people like Nubia Martin, a senior that first connected with Memorial’s community services in 2014. “This program has made me much better mentally, healthy, and I love the community they’ve been able to put together,” she said. “It’s been a wonderful experience.”

  • drs. elvire jacques and juan carlos brenes

    Memorial Healthcare System Warns of High Rates of Preeclampsia in South Florida Pregnant Women

    Memorial Healthcare System is warning that the number of pregnant and postpartum women with high blood pressure in South Florida is significantly higher than the national average. Preeclampsia, a hypertensive disorder of pregnancy, is affecting 9.4% of maternity patients at Memorial’s three birthing hospitals, more than double the national average of 4.2% over the past 30 years. Because of health disparities, the risk to women of color is especially high, particularly vulnerable are non-Hispanic Black women with additional risk factors such as being over 35 years of age, having late or no prenatal care, and experiencing obesity and other complications.

    “Raising awareness about a problem such as hypertension and cardiovascular disease in pregnant and postpartum women can make the difference between life and death,” said Juan Carlos Brenes, MD, medical director of Clinical Cardiology at Memorial Regional Hospital. He furthers explains that preeclampsia can present in different ways and women should remain vigilant during pregnancy and after they deliver the baby.

    Preeclampsia poses a life-threatening risk to both the mother and unborn child and increases the risk of cardiac complications later in life. Currently, there is no known cure for preeclampsia during pregnancy other than delivery of the baby and placenta in the hope that the mother's blood pressure may subside.

    Patricia Hall, a patient at Memorial Regional Hospital, had what she called a perfect pregnancy, and her pre-pregnancy hypertension remained under control without medication. However, she continued to monitor her blood pressure after her delivery, following her doctor's recommendations. Patricia's vigilance and prompt action helped her seek appropriate medical care when her blood pressure skyrocketed postpartum.

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    Datasource: Patricia's preeclampsia story      

    "Seventy-two hours after delivering, I went home, and that night my pressure went through the roof. It was 169 over 102. That, from my experience, was not normal," said Hall, who experienced postpartum preeclampsia. She arrived at the Emergency Room at Memorial Regional, where the medical team followed preeclampsia protocols, put her on medication immediately, and provided her with a teal, medical alert bracelet that identifies her as having preeclampsia. Patricia credits Dr. Brenes with saving her life.

    Preeclampsia can present with several warning signals, such as elevated blood pressure, abrupt swelling, intractable headaches, impaired vision, and upper abdominal pain, which may occur during pregnancy or after delivery.

    Elvire Jacques, MD, maternal-fetal medicine specialist at Memorial Healthcare System, stressed the importance of access to quality care. “Women who do have preeclampsia are at increased risk for having cardiac complications, so we want to make sure they are not just taken care of at that initial point in time, but that we provide the follow-up care as well,” she said.

    Memorial Healthcare System remains committed to providing high-quality care to its patients and educating the community about the risks of preeclampsia and the importance of monitoring blood pressure during and after pregnancy.

    Memorial Primary Care created a special position called OB Hypertension Navigator. The goal of this medical professional is to help improve outcomes, particularly for women of color and their babies in Broward County. The navigator works with expectant women who have or are at risk of hypertension to coordinate timely prenatal care, educate about the danger signs, monitor postpartum blood pressure, and ensure new moms complete postpartum visits.

    For the Memorial Primary Care OB Hypertension Navigator, call 754-971-7780.