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Geisinger becomes the first member of Risant Health

A mechanical thrombectomy saved Charlie’s life after he suffered a stroke. Geisinger offers this breakthrough stroke treatment at our Comprehensive Stroke Centers.

“I was torn between going in the pool or meeting my son Jeff at Tasty Freeze,” says Charlie Hemak of Peckville. “I’m lucky I went to see Jeff.”

After getting ice cream, Charlie and his son walked next door to a local eyewear shop. “We sat down, and Jeff told me I was talking funny. The next thing I knew, he was dialing 911.” The 77-year-old was having a stroke.

Spotting the signs of a stroke saved Charlie’s life

“I could tell right away he was having a stroke,” Jeff recalls. “He started mumbling and his face was drooping.” When a stroke happens, it’s important to seek medical attention immediately. Difficulty speaking and a drooping face are two visually clear signs of a stroke.

An easy acronym to remember is BE FAST when someone is experiencing a stroke by looking for these signs:

  • Balance difficulties
  • Eyesight changes
  • Face drooping
  • Arm weakness
  • Speech difficulty
  • Time to call 911

Charlie was transported to Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center in Wilkes-Barre, northeast Pa.'s first Comprehensive Stroke Center as designated by the Joint Commission and the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association. 

Breakthrough stroke treatment at Geisinger

At the hospital, neurosurgeon Dr. Gregory Weiner performed a new, groundbreaking treatment on Charlie: mechanical thrombectomy. During this minimally invasive procedure, which has been a breakthrough in stroke care, a catheter is inserted into the groin and threaded up through the neck, until it reaches the blood clot causing the stroke.

“The blockage was in my brain, between my right eye and ear. Dr. Weiner said I was the first person he treated with this procedure in the northeast. That’s how new it was! I got lucky with him as my doctor. I went from having a stroke to being back to 100 percent really quickly. It was like it never happened. By 9 p.m. that night, I felt great.” 

Charlie was in the hospital for three more days while his care team monitored his progress. “Dr. Weiner checked on me every day, and I was out of bed walking less than 24 hours after my stroke. Everyone was very good to me - the doctors, the nurses, even the food was good,” he laughs.

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