There are 1.7 million traumatic brain injuries and 795,000 strokes reported
annually in the United States. Whether it’s a traumatic brain injury,
the onset of a stroke, a tumor diagnosis or a back or neck disorder, it’s
important to receive world-class neurological care.
Many St. Joseph Health hospitals offer the most advanced neurosurgery and
rehabilitation services led by highly-skilled and compassionate physicians
and caregivers, and our patients are sharing their inspiring stories:
For Joni Feldman, it started with the worst headache of her life. For Amber
Matranga, her first symptom was falling down unconscious at work. The
75-year-old grandmother from Tustin and the 45-year-old mom from Placentia
were both victims of ruptured brain aneurysms — and despite very
poor odds — both would have their lives and well-being restored
by a team of physicians and staff that specialize in redefining what’s possible.
Each initially went to the closest hospital, but were quickly transferred
— just weeks apart — to St. Jude Medical Center, home to one
of California’s most respected neurosciences institutes and stroke
centers. Once inside the hospital’s Neurointerventional Suite, the
minimally-invasive repair or “coiling” of the ruptured blood
vessels was complicated by vasospasm which dangerously narrowed and weakened
the arteries of both women — a complication successfully overcome
during the technically-challenging procedures.
“The survival rate for a high-grade ruptured aneurysm is very low
and the odds of making a full recovery are even lower,” explains
Hamed Farid, MD, MBA, medical director, St. Jude Medical Center Neurointerventional
Radiology. “To see patients like Joni and Amber step back into their
lives, with no permanent deficits or limitations, is a powerful reminder
of why optimal outcomes matter and why, for us, the only acceptable standard
The St. Jude Medical Center CCU was recently awarded the Beacon Award for
Excellence. The St. Jude Neurosciences Institute has earned several honors,
including being named an Advanced Comprehensive Stroke Center by The Joint
Commission and American Heart Association/American Stroke Association.
St. Jude Medical Center is proud to be among only 100 hospitals to have
earned this designation in the nation, and only 10 in the state.
Read more about Joni’s and Amber’s journeys.
Brenda Lothringer, 46, has an active job. She preps, cooks, transports
and serves meals at multiple high schools in her district. She takes pride
in preparing quality food. Last year, however, the job was getting harder
for the resident of Clearlake Oaks, located 70 miles north of Napa. Since
July, Lothringer felt sharp pain in her shoulder and shoulder blades,
but several doctors told her it was just a pulled muscle. Her symptoms
worsened. By October, Lothringer was having trouble walking, her right
leg was going numb, and she could barely use her fingers.
In November 2016, in desperation she went to a local hospital. There, an
emergency department (ED) physician finally recognized the worst: a severe
herniated disk was compressing her spinal cord.
Things moved quickly. The physician made a call to Scott Berta, MD, a neurosurgeon
with the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) in Napa, who was
on call that evening, and explained the critical situation. Dr. Berta
is the medical director of neurosurgery at the Peggy Herman Neuroscience
Center at Queen of the Valley.
Lothringer found herself on a medical air transport to Queen of the Valley
Medical Center, where she met Dr. Berta and a crisis team he had assembled.
Lothringer was taken directly from the ED to the operating room, where
Dr. Berta repaired the severe disk herniation that was compressing her
spinal cord to three millimeters. With the pressure off Lothringer’s
spinal cord, it returned to its normal size, providing instant relief.
Read more about Brenda’s journey.
After 16 years working as a nurse on the stroke unit at Mission Hospital,
Bernadette Espiritu, 45, never imagined she’d become a patient herself.
But in February of 2016, while eating breakfast during her morning break
at the hospital, Bernadette’s arm went numb.
While Bernadette was well trained on the signs of a stroke and what to
look for, until then she never knew what it felt like. CAT and CT scans
confirmed she had a small blood clot in her carotid artery and had in
fact suffered a stroke. After spending a night in the hospital and suffering
a second stroke the next day, doctors decided to perform surgery to remove
plaque build-up and restore blood flow to her artery.
“Thanks to the quick thinking of my co-workers, the quality care
and rehabilitation therapy I received at Mission Hospital, I’m nearly
100 percent recovered and am so happy to be back to work caring for patients
going through similar situations as me,” says Bernadette.
Fortunately for Bernadette and others in south Orange County, the Mission
Neuroscience Institute (MNI) offers world-class care and expertise close
to home, with the most advanced neurosurgery and rehabilitation services
available. The institute recently applied for Comprehensive Stroke Center
designation, which is the highest level that can be achieved by a stroke program.
Read more about Bernadette’s journey.
The Covenant Medical Center advanced primary stroke center in Texas has
earned several honors, including The Joint Commission’s Gold Seal
of Approval®and the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association’s
Heart-Check mark for
Advanced Certification for Primary Stroke Centers. The Gold Seal of Approval® and the Heart-Check mark represent symbols of quality from their respective
Like many of the other St. Joseph Health stroke centers, Covenant Health’s
stroke center offers: emergency services, available 24 hours a day, 7
days a week; the latest technology, testing and interventions used to
rapidly diagnose and treat a stroke; inpatient rehabilitation; and an
accredited stroke recovery program.
Covenant Health also offers the Covenant NeuroScience Institute, dedicated
to offering the region’s most advanced neurosurgery, neurology and
This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical
care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.