When minutes matter

How fast action and a clot busting drug saved a patient

This story appears in the 2019 spring/summer edition of Connections Magazine.


Tom and Connie Newhof

Tom Newhof was surprised by the expression on his wife’s face as he tried to tell her his right arm was numb.

“She had this horrified look because what was coming out of my of mouth was alphabet soup,” Tom said.

As a physician, Tom’s wife, Connie, immediately recognized his symptoms — it was a stroke. She called 911, and then it was a race against the clock.

When it comes to stroke, every moment matters, and the expression “time is brain” is frequently used to emphasize that the sooner a patient receives care, the greater chance they have to make a full recovery.

“Moscow’s volunteer firefighters were at our home within 10 minutes and immediately took me to Gritman,” Tom said. “By the time my wife parked the car outside the hospital, I was already in the CT scanner.”


Chief Medical Officer Dr. John Brown and Emergency Department Director Nicole Wheaton, RN, stand with Gritman’s Telestroke machine.

Thanks to fast-acting Emergency Department staff and Gritman’s Telestroke machine, Tom was immediately connected in real time with an expert neurologist at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center in Spokane.

“This video-conferencing technology allows a patient to be examined by a skilled neurologist, right here in Moscow,” Emergency Department Director Nicole Wheaton said. “When minutes matter, this partnership saves lives with fast diagnosis and treatment.”

After an examination by a neurologist and his CT scan was reviewed, Tom was given an IV of tPA, a drug that helps dissolves blood clots and improves blood flow to the brain.

“I find it hard to believe that anything could have moved quicker,” Tom said. “The level of care and compassion, I was so impressed.”

Life Flight nurses cared for him as he was transported to Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center where he received additional treatment.

“I was disoriented and somewhat in denial. I’m the kind of person who is never in the hospital — I had just walked 5 miles that day,” Tom said. “The ER doctor, the technician, the nurses, all the people that were working with me were very compassionate and professional.”

When Tom and Connie chose to retire in Moscow from Seattle, some of their friends expressed concern about access to high-quality health care on the Palouse.

“As a former CEO of a hospital, I knew firsthand how good medical services were in the Moscow-Pullman area,” Tom said. “I have experienced a remarkable recovery, in no small part because of the wonderful ER staffs outstanding performance.”


Spring/Summer 2019 Connections

As a nonprofit community hospital, Gritman Medical Center publishes Connections magazine twice a year to keep you informed and up-to-date with everything that’s happening in our hospital and regional network of clinics.

Read Spring/Summer 2019 Connections