What Steve Bason was feeling was unfamiliar and scary — his tongue wasn’t functioning normally and the left side of his face was drooping. Although Steve wasn’t sure what it was, his wife recognized the symptoms as a possible stroke.
“I knew I felt ‘off’ and I was losing function of the left side of my face,” says Steve, a businessman from Clinton County. “As a former EMT, I didn’t think it was too serious but I jokingly told my wife if I hit the floor she should call an ambulance.”
While trying to convince Steve to go to the hospital, his wife called their health insurance’s nurse helpline for advice. After describing Steve’s symptoms, the nurse connected her with a doctor right away. The doctor advised Steve to get to the closest emergency department—immediately.
“I was in disbelief,” says Steve. “I was still making jokes, but the doctor said I could be having a stroke.”
Steve lives in Mill Hall, so the closest emergency department is UPMC Lock Haven.
“I was so impressed with how quickly everything happened,” says Steve. “The person at the registration desk recognized my slurred speech, got on the phone and within moments I was in a room, then in getting a CT scan.”
Diana Nyman was the nurse working in the emergency department that day. She knew Steve from his days as a local EMT. Diana explained to Steve that there is a standard protocol for anyone with stroke symptoms. With a stroke, rapid treatment is the key to preventing disability or death. Treatment must begin within hours of a stroke’s onset. The goal is to restore blood flow to the brain as quickly as possible to prevent permanent brain damage.
“The doctor determined it was Bell’s palsy, a condition which causes paralysis to one side of your face. I am thankful that it wasn’t a stroke,” says Steve.
Steve remembers the entire staff at the emergency department in Lock Haven took very good care of him.
He explains, “They made us feel comfortable. Diana informed us of what was happening every step of the way. She was extraordinary.”
Steve was discharged that night, and the symptoms of Bell’s palsy were gone within 72 hours.
After this scary situation, he remarked, “We live in an area with many health care options. I can confidently tell friends, the care at UPMC Lock Haven is great. I wouldn’t hesitate to go there.”