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You’ve had a stroke. Now what?

When it comes to brain recovery, it’s a race against time. Unlike most injuries, the brain does not need to rest after trauma, but requires activity as soon as possible. The level of care you receive at the beginning establishes your level of ability at the end.

: 40

Every 40 seconds someone in America has a stroke. – Source:, 2015


Strokes are the number one cause of disability in the United States. – Source:, 2015


Stroke survivors have two options for rehabilitation. They can choose an Inpatient Rehabilitation Facility, like the Acute Rehabilitation Center (ARC) at Herrin Hospital, or a Skilled Nursing Facility.


The number of days in six months, which represents a very important window of time to achieve maximum recovery. The longer the wait, the harder it is to recover. – Source: Neurorehabilitation and Neural Repair, “Variable Intensive Early Walking Post Stroke,” 2015


At a Skilled Nursing Facility, a physician is required to evaluate the patient within 14 days of admittance. – Source:, 2014


At an Inpatient Rehabilitation Facility, like ARC, a physician is required to evaluate you the very first day you arrive. – Source:, 2014


At a Skilled Nursing Facility, a registered nurse is required to be available only 8 hours per day. – Source:, 2014


At an Inpatient Rehabilitation Facility, like ARC, a registered nurse is required to be available 24 hours a day. – Source:, 2014


The typical Skilled Nursing Facility provides only this many hours of therapy per week. – Source: Department of Health and Human Services


At the Acute Rehabilitation Center, this is how many hours of therapy per week you can expect, or more. (Remember, the more therapy, the more recovery.)


At an Inpatient Rehabilitation Center you will experience 8 times greater improvement in cognitive ability (reading, using a phone, following complex instructions) versus being treated at a Skilled Nursing Facility. – Source: ACRM, “Does Post-acute Site Matter” A Longitudinal Study Assessing Functional Recovery After a Stroke”, 2013


At an Inpatient Rehabilitation Center you will experience 5 times greater improvement in mobility (walking, bending, lifting and carrying) versus being treated at a Skilled Nursing Facility.
Source: ACRM, “Does Post-acute Site Matter” A Longitudinal Study Assessing Functional Recovery After a Stroke”, 2013


At an Inpatient Rehabilitation Center you will experience 3 times greater improvement in self-care ability (feeding, toileting, grooming, dressing, meal preparation) versus being treated at a Skilled Nursing Facility.
Source: ACRM, “Does Post-acute Site Matter” A Longitudinal Study Assessing Functional Recovery After a Stroke”, 2013


SIH has a 21 year alliance with Shirley Ryan AbilityLab who has been ranked #1 by U.S. World & News Report for 27 years. To learn more about the partnership with Shirley Ryan AbilityLab click here.


The numbers in this article represent facts. And the fact is stroke survivors can make dramatic improvements by choosing an Inpatient Rehabilitation Facility, like ARC. But the choice you make now has a lot to do with it. After all, what could be more important?

To learn more about Stroke Rehabilitation at ARC call 800.972.8859 or click here.

Stroke Hits Close to Home

It’s approximately 8:30 in the morning and you are finishing up breakfast with your wife at home in Benton. You try to ask her a question, but you can’t seem to find your words. You attempt to wave to get her attention, but you can’t move your right arm. You mumble a sound and she turns to look at you. Thankfully, she had just seen an advertisement about the signs and symptoms of stroke and recognizes that this is a medical emergency. Your wife of 58 years calls 9-1-1 and tells them she thinks you are having a Stroke. Within minutes, an ambulance arrives and the EMS team begins their initial work-up. They perform some tests and ask a few questions; now it’s time to go to the hospital.

While in the ambulance, you hear the paramedic call the local hospital and tell the staff they are bringing in a Stroke patient. Once you arrive, you know that this really is an emergency. Everyone in the Emergency Department is working vigilantly to provide prompt care. You are taken out of the department and quickly sent to Imaging to have a CT scan of your head. Once the doctor sees the scan, he quickly explains that because you came in as soon as your symptoms started, you qualify for a drug called tPA (tissue plasminogen activator) which will hopefully break down the clot in your brain. You agree to the medication and the infusion is quickly started.

Meanwhile, the doctor consults with a neurologist from the SIH inpatient neurology team at Memorial Hospital of Carbondale via telemedicine – a technology allowing doctors and patients to “virtually” meet with specialists remotely. The neurologist recommends another type of CT scan that looks at the vessels in your head. This time the scan shows that one of your large vessels in the brain is occluded (blocked) by a blood clot. The Neurologist tells you that you need to go to a Comprehensive Stroke Center so they can do a thrombectomy. He explains that a thrombectomy is a surgical procedure that can retrieve the clot from your head and, hopefully, restore blood flow to your brain. Arrangements are made and the flight team quickly arrives. It seems like you are in the helicopter for just a short while before landing at BJC in St. Louis. The Comprehensive Stroke team is awaiting your arrival and as soon as you land they rush you down to the surgical suite.

You wake up and your wife is by your side. The doctor comes in and tells you that the procedure was successful and they were able to restore blood flow to your brain. You begin to talk and realize you are able to make out some words. You can feel your right arm and, although it is difficult, you are able to move it more than you could at home. The staff encourages you to rest because you will soon start your road to recovery. A case manager comes in to see you and she discusses rehabilitation options and helps you decide what would be best for you and your recovery. Being a southern Illinois native, you decide that the Acute Rehab Center at Herrin Hospital is ultimately the best fit for your needs. There, you will receive specialized stroke rehabilitation from a collaborative team of experts while remaining close to home with family and friends.

This hypothetical scenario is, sadly, all too real for many people in southern Illinois. Fortunately, the neurology team from the SIH Brain & Spine Institute and The Stroke Network of hospitals are ready and waiting when a stroke occurs. Learn to recognize the signs and symptoms of stroke F.A.S.T. so you or your loved ones have the best chance at a full recovery.

F – Face: Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?
A – Arms: Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
S – Speech: Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Is their speech slurred or strange?
T – Time: If you observe any of these signs, call 9-1-1 immediately!

The Stroke Network consists of eight hospitals throughout southern Illinois, working collaboratively with EMS services and SIH Brain & Spine Institute to provide the fastest, most comprehensive stroke care in the region.

Primary Stroke Centers:

Carbondale – Memorial Hospital of Carbondale
Herrin – Herrin Hospital

Network Hospitals:

Benton – Franklin Hospital
DuQuoin – Marshall Browning Hospital
Harrisburg – Harrisburg Medical Center
McLeansboro – Hamilton Memorial Hospital
Murphysboro – St. Joseph Memorial Hospital
Pinckneyville – Pinckneyville Community Hospital

FDA Announces Voluntary Recall

FDA Announces Voluntary Recall of Several Medicines Containing Valsartan

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is alerting health care professionals and patients of a voluntary recall of several drug products containing the active ingredient valsartan, used to treat high blood pressure and heart failure. This recall is due to an impurity, N-nitrosodimethylamine(NDMA), which was found in the recalled products. However, not all products containing valsartan are being recalled. NDMA is classified as a probable human carcinogen (a substance that could cause cancer) based on results from laboratory tests. The presence of NDMA was unexpected and is thought to be related to changes in the way the active substance was manufactured.

The FDA’s review is ongoing and has included investigating the levels of NDMA in the recalled products, assessing the possible effect on patients who have been taking them and what measures can be taken to reduce or eliminate the impurity from future batches produced by the company.

It is important that you:

1. Check the list and call your pharmacy, not all varsartan is being recalled

2. Do not abruptly stop the medication without talking to your provider and starting a replacement drug. If the pharmacy confirms your valsartan has been recalled, call your provider.

The companies listed below are recalling all lots of non-expired products that contain the ingredient valsartan supplied by a third-party. Not all valsartan-containing medicines distributed in the United States have valsartan active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) supplied by this specific company. The supplier has stopped distributing its valsartan API and the FDA is working with the affected companies to reduce or eliminate the valsartan API impurity from future products.

Recalled Products

Medicine and Company
Valsartan – Major Pharmaceuticals
Valsartan – Solco Healthcare
Valsartan – Teva Pharmaceuticals Industries Ltd.
Valsartan/Hydrochlorothiazide (HCTZ) – Solco Healthcare
Valsartan/Hydrochlorothiazide (HCTZ) – Teva Pharmaceuticals Industries Ltd.

41 Years as a General Surgeon: David Clutts, MD

General surgeon, David Clutts, MD is retiring after 41 years as a physician. In 1977, he began practicing general surgery at Grandville Medical Center in Grandville, Michigan after completing residency from St. Mary’s Hospital in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Just a few short years later, in 1982, Dr. Clutts and his wife, Kathy, packed ten 40 feet shipping containers, plus their family, and moved to Togo, West Africa.

Dr. Clutts worked hard in raising financial support to build a new hospital in Togo. When construction began, Dr. Clutts changed hats from fundraiser to construction worker. In July of 1985, Hospital Baptiste Bliblique (HBB) – Karolyn Kempton Memorial Hospital opened its doors. For the next six years, Dr. Clutts practiced as a general surgeon in Togo. Today, the hospital is a major medical-surgical acute care facility and is expanding into an education facility.

In 1991, the Clutts family moved to southern Illinois where he began taking care of the patients located at the “Carbondale Clinic.” For the next 27 years, he touched countless lives, helped so many families and still continued with his mission work as a volunteer surgeon in Togo.

We invite you to please help us celebrate, thank and honor Dr. David Clutts.

Friday, June 22, 2018
5:00 – 7:00 PM
The Wedding Garden at Garden Grove Event Center
1215 E Walnut in Carbondale

Celebrating Allergist/Immunologist, Ronald Mings, MD

This Friday, we will honor and celebrate a man who has dedicated the past 40 years of his professional life taking care of patients in southern Illinois.

Ronald Mings, MD, originally from West Frankfort, pursued a dream to attend medical school in St. Louis with the hopes of coming back to southern Illinois to take care of his community. He began his practice as an Internal Medicine physician right out of medical school in 1973. After working as an internist for 11 years, he decided to go back to medical school to specialize as an Allergist/Immunologist. For 29 years, he flourished as an allergist.

For the past 40 years, Dr. Mings has taken care of, educated and supported the residents and physicians of southern Illinois.

We invited you to come help us celebrate, thank, and honor him.


Friday, June 15, 2018
5:00 – 7:00 PM
The Wedding Garden at Garden Grove Event Center
1215 E Walnut in Carbondale

“I have been blessed with great staff and patients over the years. I contribute my satisfying career to them.”

Joint Replacement at Herrin Hospital

Joint replacement patients need specialized care before and after surgery for the best outcomes. In 2012, Herrin Hospital implemented a unique model of care, Joint Camp, for hip and knee replacement patients. Joint Camp combines surgical expertise, top-notch therapy, specially trained nurses and valuable education to give you a better experience and faster recovery when facing joint replacement surgery.

Joint replacement is a treatment option when pain:

  • Is severe
  • Interferes with daily activities
  • Interferes with work

Joint Camp programs are used at some of the nation’s top hospitals as a proven method to help patients ease their anxiety and experience a better outcome while recovering more quickly. Herrin Hospital’s Joint Camp earned the Gold Seal of Approval by The Joint Commission. The Gold Seal of Approval means Joint Camp at Herrin Hospital has demonstrated its commitment to the highest level of care for its patients with hip and knee replacement surgery.

Joint Camp is an all-inclusive program that educates you and your family about joint replacement surgery, provides a group therapy experience, and better prepares you to go home and return to normal activities. A well-informed patient always responds better.

Benefits of joint replacement surgery at Herrin Hospital include:

  • Group therapy
  • Specialized gym for Orthopaedic patients
  • Certified Orthopaedic Nurses
  • Joint Camp Coordinator
  • Discharge classes for patient and family
  • Occupational Therapist specifically designated for Joint Camp

To learn more about SIH’s Joint Camp for your joint replacement surgery, call (618)942.2171 ext 35856

Patient Story Follow-Up “Quilting Connection”

It is not uncommon for a student to eventually become a teacher, coach or mentor, but occasionally the roles reverse and the teacher becomes the student.

In February 2009, Carla Shasteen was in a severe accident that resulted in her need for care at the Acute Rehab Center (ARC) at Herrin Hospital. Carla’s injuries required a team of doctors, nurses and therapists who worked with her to reach her goal of recovery as well as a personal goal – to quilt again. Speech Therapist, Tracy Dalton, was on Carla’s care team and helped her to speak again. At that point, neither Tracy nor Carla had any idea their paths would cross again years later.

Tracy wanted to make a quilt with some t-shirts for a family member, but there was one problem – she had no idea how to make a quilt. While researching quilting online, something interesting caught Tracy’s eye on Facebook. A class was being offered at John A. Logan College on making a memory quilt and when she read the instructor’s name, she was excited to learn it was Carla Shasteen. Tracy quickly registered for the course.

While Tracy was attending Carla’s quilting class, a thought came to her. “It struck me sitting there in class how much Carla has achieved and I had a part in helping her recover.” The roles of student and teacher don’t often reverse, but when they do it can be a very rewarding experience.

Carla enjoys teaching ladies how to plan and create memory quilts, but she enjoys the fact that she is able to provide this service, even more, thanks to her care team – including Tracy – at ARC.


Widespread Flu Activity Prompts Restricted Visitation

With the increase in regional flu activity, we’re implementing temporary changes to our hospital visitor policy in the best interest of our patients and staff.

Here’s what to expect:

  • Beginning January 3, 2018, visitation is limited to individuals 18 years of age or older and a maximum of two visitors per patient at a time.
  • Possible exceptions include, but are not limited to, end-of-life care.
  • At age 55, women should have mammograms every other year – though women who want to keep having yearly mammograms should be able to do so.
  • In extenuating circumstances, the patient’s nurse will work with the patient and the patient’s family to assess the situation and rule out flu-like symptoms.

We care about your health. If you have any questions about this temporary policy change, please reach out to the hospital’s infection prevention department and/or ask to speak with the house supervisor.

Influenza in Illinois:

The Illinois Department of Public Health reports widespread regional flu activity via this online Influenza Surveillance Update.. Widespread activity means an increase in influenza-like illness (ILI) and/or institutional outbreaks (nursing homes, hospitals, schools, prisons, etc.) in at least half of the regions and recent (within the past three weeks) lab confirmed influenza in the state.

Aortic Stenosis

What is Aortic Stenosis (AS)?

Aortic stenosis (AS) is a serious and potentially life threatening condition that develops when there is a buildup of calcium on the aortic valve. This causes the valve to become stenotic (stiff) and the opening smaller. As a result, your heart has to work harder and less blood can be delivered to your body. As the blood passes through the stenotic valve, it creates a sound called a murmur. Your doctor might hear this sound when using a stethoscope to listen to your heart. This sound may be one of the first indications that you have a heart valve problem.

Normal blood flow through your heart

Your heart has four chambers and four valves. The valves prevent the blood from flowing backward as it travels through the heart. Normally, unoxygenated blood enters the right atrium and travels through the tricuspid valve into the right ventricle. Blood leaves the right ventricle through the pulmonic valve to enter the lungs for reoxygenation. Once the blood has been replenished with oxygen, it returns to the heart via the pulmonary vein and enters the left atrium.Your blood will leave the left atrium by passing through the mitral valve to enter the final chamber of the heart, the left ventricle. The left ventricle is responsible for pumping the oxygen-rich blood through the aortic valve to your body.

What causes AS?

  • Increased age
  • Birth Defects
  • Rheumatic Fever
  • Radiation Therapy

What are the Symptoms of AS?

Although some people do not report any symptoms, it is more likely that they have decreased their activity as their aortic stenosis worsened. More commonly you will experience one or more of the symptoms below.

  • Shortness of Breath
  • Lightheadedness or dizziness
  • Passing out or fainting
  • Palpitations or fast heart beat
  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • Fatigue
  • Decreased activity tolerance
  • Swelling of the lower legs or feet

What happens if AS goes untreated?

As the aortic valve becomes more stenotic or stiff, your heart must work harder to deliver blood to the rest of your body. Over time this causes your heart muscle to become weak, eventually resulting in heart failure. After the onset of symptoms, patients with severe aortic stenosis have a survival rate as low as 50% at 2 years and 20% at 5 years without aortic valve replacement.

What’s Next?

Aortic stenosis is a complex medical condition best treated by a comprehensive team that can decide which approach is best based on a person’s medical and overall physical condition. A multidisciplinary team of specialists from Prairie Heart Institute, SIH Medical Group Cardiothoracic Surgery and Carbondale Memorial Hospital partner to develop individualized care plans while continuously working together to provide patients with innovative and effective cardiovascular care.

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with AS or told that you have a murmur you can call 618.529.4455 to request an evaluation with our Heart Valve Clinic.

By consulting with our Heart Valve Team you will have access to world class, highly skilled interventional and non-invasive cardiologists, cardiac surgeons, cardiovascular imaging specialists, cardiac anesthesiologists, and cardiac nurses.

What can I expect if my primary care provider refers me to the Heart Valve Clinic?

During the initial consultation a Cardiologist will perform a comprehensive history and physical exam.

Family history: it is helpful if you gather the information about your family (parents-siblings) prior to meeting your cardiologist as many conditions run in families.

Medical History: your cardiologist will ask you about your overall health, past surgeries, significant illnesses, current medications, and allergies.

Your cardiologist will perform a physical exam which will include listening to your heart for murmurs. This is the sound made as blood passes through your heart valves and can indicate a diseased valve.
Testing may be ordered to assess the heart valves and overall heart function.

Electrocardiogram (EKG): The EKG will record your hearts rate and rhythm by documenting the electrical condition in your heart. Many abnormalities within the heart will result in changes in the electrical condition.

Echocardiogram: An echocardiogram is a sound wave test performed on your heart that allows the cardiologist to assess the function of your heart muscle and valves.
After your initial exam and testing are complete, your cardiologist will review your case with the Structural Heart Team and advice treatment options.

Observation and possibly medication such as a diuretic (water pill) only if the AS is mild. You will also be scheduled for a follow up visit within 3-6 month to assess any changes in your heart valve. If you notice any change in your symptoms or exercise ability you should contact your cardiologist.

Consultation with a Cardiothoracic Surgeon for possible open heart surgery to replace the aortic valve. Surgical Aortic Valve Replacement (SAVR) through open heart surgery is a very common treatment for aortic stenosis. SAVR has been performed for many years. During SAVR, the surgeon opens the chest cavity, removes the diseased aortic valve and replaces it with either a mechanical valve (made from man-made materials) or a biological valve (made from animal or human tissue).

Consultation with the Heart Valve Team (Structural heart team) to be evaluated for TAVR (Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement) where the new valve is implanted though a catheter without open heart surgery. Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR) may be an alternative for people who have been diagnosed with severe symptomatic aortic stenosis and who are high-risk or too sick for open heart surgery. This less invasive procedure allows a new valve to be inserted within the native, diseased aortic valve. The TAVR procedure can be performed through multiple approaches; however the most common approach is the transfemoral approach (through an incision in the leg). With the heart still beating, a collapsible heart valve inside the catheter is guided into the chest. This valve is only about the diameter of a #2 pencil. Once inside, the replacement valve is expanded, pushing aside the damaged valves. The replacement valve is then secured into place, where it begins to function immediately. The catheter is then removed. Because the procedure is minimally invasive and requires virtually no cutting, most patients can expect an in-hospital recovery time of three days or less.

Our team will guide you and your family through the evaluation process and will be available to assist in coordinating your care every step of the way.
You can find out more about our valve team at

Celebrating Brian McElheny, MD

Today, we honor and celebrate a man who has worked tirelessly for the past 36 years as a family physician in Carbondale.

Brian McElheny, MD, completed medical school at St. Louis University School of Medicine and then ventured to Carbondale to begin the residency program at Memorial Hospital of Carbondale in 1978. Three years later, he opened his practice and has remained devoted to his patients, staff and the community ever since his first day in 1981.

We invite you to come help us celebrate, thank, and honor him for taking care of the community for the past 36 years.

Friday, August 11, 2017
5:00 – 7:00 pm
The Courtyard at Garden Grove Event Center
1215 E Walnut in Carbondale

“I’m really going to miss my patients. I have learned so much from them. They think it’s the other way around but every day, they teach me something new. It has truly been an honor to serve the people in southern Illinois.”