November 22, 2016

Stroke Survivor Goes On to Work as Emergency Nurse


By Ben Boulden

Shannon Coles didn’t know why her pills were on the floor of the physician’s office where she worked next door to the White River Medical Center in Batesville.

She had reached into her purse, and the next thing she knew, they were on the floor. Coles didn’t remember grabbing them or getting them out.

Her confusion grew when she slid out of her chair and onto the floor in an unsuccessful attempt to retrieve the spilled pills. When a coworker tried to help her up, Coles could not bear weight on her right leg.

The physician for whom she worked quickly recognized her symptoms as those of a stroke and got her to the ER at the neighboring medical center. Curt Coles, her husband, was helping a friend pour some concrete miles away from the medical center when he received a text from one of his wife’s coworkers, informing him of what had happened. He called a local police officer and friend to warn him that he would not be obeying the speed limit.

Curt Coles had arrived when AR SAVES stroke neurologist Margaret Tremwel, M.D., determined Coles was having a stroke. Tremwel, in Fayetteville, examined Coles through a consultation over a high-speed video communications network that is part of the AR SAVES program. The neurologist put Shannon Coles through some tests of her motor and verbal skills. Her movements were slow, but she was able to complete them.

The test results were enough for Tremwel to recommend Coles receive a blood thinner. It had been less than an hour since her admission.

Curt, who is a paramedic and firefighter, said he saw a positive effect from the blood thinner almost instantly. Next, Coles, with her husband at her side, was transported to UAMS Medical Center. Her health continued to improve, and Coles steadily regained her physical coordination and strength.

By 3 p.m. the next day, she was released by UAMS Medical Center and able to return home. She has no side effects from the stroke, and in December, she received her pin as a registered nurse.

Coles today works in the same Emergency Department in which she was treated months ago for stroke. That’s because of AR SAVES and White River Health System.

“It all worked out and everybody was fabulous at UAMS,” Coles said. “The nurses were wonderful. The ER staff at White River Medical Center was great, too.”

Janie Evans, a clinical education nurse at White River Medical Center, has been an AR SAVES facilitator with the program since its beginning.

“White River Health System has been a part of AR Saves since the second year,” Evans said. “In remote areas without access to the program, success stories such as Shannon’s would not be possible. I am very proud of our Emergency Department staff for their commitment to this program.”