On the Pulse: What’s Happening: Young mom successfully recovers from stroke, and more

Doctors make a lot of sacrifices, putting in long hours, working with patients who are sometimes very sick.  A favorable outcome is never assured.  So it’s always gratifying when all the hard work pays off,as it did in the case of 20-year-old Nichole Higby,who arrived at Lakeland Regional Medical Center (LRMC) recently in the throes of a stroke.

A month after childbirth had strained and damaged her heart, Higby arrived at the LRMC Emergency Room unable to speak or move the right side of her body.  “It was imperative that we removed the clot as soon as possible, because neurons die at a rapid rate.  Thus, one must remove the clot in the brain within approximately four hours after stroke onset for any chance of reversing the stroke.  Time is brain,” explains Dr. Michael Addonizio, a Watson Clinic international radiologist on duty at the time.

Higby was quickly evaluated by Watson Clinic neurologist, Dr. Duane Campbell.  After a computed tomography (CT) scan was taken to find the clot, the patient was quickly moved into the procedure room under the care of Dr. Addonizio, who performed a thrombectomy.

A thrombectomy involves the insertion of a thin catheter through a small incision in the groin.  The catheter is led to the affected area of the brain, and a stent attachment at the end of the wire is deployed within the clot.  Then both stent and clot is retrieved as one unit into the catheter, reestablishing blood flow to the brain.

Afterwards, Higby was sent to intensive care for constant monitoring.  By the next day, her symptoms were much improved.  Within weeks, she displayed a near total reversal of symptoms.

Just weeks after the trauma, Higby is able to hold her baby and fully embrace her life as a new mom.  “It’s such a rare occurrence that someone so young would suffer a stroke,” Dr. Addonizio says.  “And it’s rarer still that the patient would enjoy such a complete recovery.”

In other medical news:


Nicole Hendricks has been named chief operating officer at Bartow Regional Medical Center (BRMC).  Previously Vice President of Operations at Belton Regional Medical Center in Belton, MO, Hendricks joins BRMC with 12 years of experience in hospital management.  Hendricks holds a Master of Health Administration degree from Saint Louis University and a Bachelor of Science degree in Speech Pathology and Audiology from Southern Illinois University.


Winter Haven-based Bond Clinic has announced the addition of nurse practitioner Christina Miller.  Miller, who has more than nine years of experience in the medical field, will be joining Dr. Juan Rivera in the Internal Medicine department.

Renee Betts was chosen Employee of the Month for March at the clinic.  A vascular technologist in the Ultrasound Department, she has been with the clinic since June 2011.


Francine Baia has been appointed director of Quality Management for Heart of Florida Regional Medical Center (HOFRMC).  A graduate of Rutgers University, Baia has more than 25 years of progressive management experience in healthcare and corporate industries.  She holds a master’s degree in Healthcare Administration as well as a nursing degree.  A licensed healthcare risk manager, she is currently studying for her Masters Lean Six Sigma Healthcare certification.

The hospital held its annual Community Family Health Fair in Haines City March 15.  The event included more than 30 vendors and free screening for balance, blood pressure, pulse oximetry, and glucose, as well as low-cost blood screenings.  The event featured a Teddy Bear Clinic, where children were allowed to help take bear temperatures, X-rays, body mass indexes, weights, and blood pressures.  The event was featured in the April edition of Central Florida Health News magazine, and more photos from the event can be seen at www.CentralFloridaHealthNews.com.


Dr. Rodney Martin Durham has joined Lakeland Regional Trauma and Surgical Associates as associate director of Trauma and Quality Services.  A trauma and critical care surgeon, he will perform surgery and work on surgical quality improvement initiatives for Lakeland Regional Health System.

Board-certified in both surgical critical care and general surgery, Dr. Durham has more than 20 years of experience in trauma surgery.  He has served as co-chairman for the State of Florida Trauma System Implementation Committee.  He previously was director of Surgical Critical Care and director of Acute Care Surgery at Sacred Heart Health System Pensacola.  He earned his Doctor of Medicine degree from the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta.


Some 106 enrolled for healthcare insurance through assistance offered by Lake Wales Medical Center (LWMC).  Uninsured individuals were offered counseling to assist them in fulfilling the Affordable Care Act insurance mandate before the March 31 open enrollment deadline.

Dr. Matthew Loughlin, a urologist, has joined LWMC’s active staff, enabling him to admit patients.  A graduate of New York Medical College, he completed residencies in Urology and General Surgery at Albany Medical Center Hospital.  Board-certified in urology, Dr. Loughlin is now a part of the medical practice of Dr. Mahesh Allam, an LWMC internist and pulmonologist.

Jessica Keen was been named LWMC’s Employee of the Month for March.  A unit secretary in the Emergency Department, Keen has been employed at LWMC since July.


The Lakeland-based Watson Clinic is partnering with American Medical Group Association (AMGA) this month in a Measure Up-Pressure Down campaign intended to raise awareness about the importance of measuring, monitoring, and maintaining a healthy blood pressure.  Literature is being distributed in the lobbies at both Main and South clinics.

May is Hypertension Awareness Month and hypertension education is being shared in Watson Clinic’s employee newsletter, throughout their social media platforms and the website blog.  The goal is to motivate people to roll up their sleeves and take their blood pressure, following it up with a medical consultation if questions arise.  Learn more at http://www.measureuppressuredown.com

Dr. Shalini Mulaparthi, an oncologist-hematologist, has been appointed cancer liaison physician for Watson Clinic’s Cancer Center.  The position previously was held by Dr. Luis Franco, also an oncologist-hematologist.

The Watson Clinic Foundation Auxiliary presented the Watson Clinic Foundation with a check for $103,514 after hosting its annual Toast to Find a Cure Wine and Cheese social, a signature event to raise funds for local cancer care and research.  Headed by area philanthropist and Chairperson Linda Logan, the Auxiliary’s annual event includes a gathering of influential members of the community—all joined together for this common purpose.  “Helping people with cancer is my passion,” Logan says.  “I’m going to do this until I’m unable, because I love every second of it.  I hope someday we find a cure for all different types of cancer.”

And doctors from Watson clinic are being featured on Bay News 9’s Medical Minutes.  The segments, which air on Thursday at Bay News 9 and Bright House Networks’ Marketplace on Demand, channel 341, include Dr. William Roth, a dermatologist, on skin cancer safety; Dr. Jeremy Katzmann, a family medicine specialist, on the importance of establishing a primary care doctor; Dr. James Mammel, an obstetrician/gynecologist, on menopause; Dr. Rajendra Sawh, an urgent care specialist, on upper respiratory infections; Dr. John Canto, a cardiologist, on a healthy heart; and Dr. Kendra Velez Rodriguez, a pediatrician, on the importance of establishing a relationship with a pediatrician.

Receiving the clinic’s Program for Employee Excellence and Recognition (PEER) Award for March was Patricia Powell, a licensed practical nurse team leader at the clinic’s Pacemaker Clinic.  For April, the award went to Adam Nesmachnov from the clinic’s Compliance Department.  Nesmachnov is a coding compliance auditor.

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