A well-oiled machine: Patient, David Huskins credits teamwork at Queens General Hospital and South Shore Regional Hospital emergency departments for saving his life after having a stroke

Photo of Vivian Huskins (left) and husband David Huskins (right)
Photo of Vivian Huskins (left) and husband David Huskins (right)

David Huskins knows a thing or two about cars.

A previous stock car racer and avid NASCR fan, he can tell you all about the roles and responsibilities of a pit crew member. Each person has a specific job, whether it’s changing the tires or tending to the driver – they all play a crucial part in getting the car back on the track and racing quickly and safely.

Huskins said his recent experience with the emergency care teams at Queens General Hospital (QGH) and South Shore Regional Hospital (SSRH) was a lot like that – and he’s grateful for it.

Around noon on February 11, 2023, Huskins started experiencing symptoms of a stroke while sitting at the kitchen table with his wife Vivian, and a friend. When asked by Vivian if he was feeling okay, he said, no. She could see he was disoriented, had a droopy mouth, his speech was gargled and had trouble coordinating parts of his body.

“I remember holding out my arms,” said Huskins. “My brain was telling my arms and hands to move, but it just wasn’t working. I knew something was wrong.”

Recognizing the signs of a stroke, Huskins wife sprang into action and called the emergency department at QGH in Liverpool to tell them they were on the way.

“I didn’t want to waste any time,” said Vivian. “Thankfully, we only live a short distance from the hospital. When we arrived, David told the screener at the door that he was having a stroke. She told the security guard to call the emergency department, got my husband in a wheelchair and ran him there. When we arrived, there were three nurses and a physician waiting for him.”

From there, the nurses hooked Huskins up to a cardiac machine while the emergency physician ran him through a series of tests and procedures. Though his recollection of the events is broken due to the severity of his symptoms, Huskins is clear about one thing – his providers were there for him, and he felt safe.

“The doctor had asked me to smile,” said Huskins. “I heard him, but I didn’t know what the word smile meant. He asked me to squeeze his fingers, to lift my arms and legs and push on his hands with my feet – but I couldn’t. It sounds scary but I knew they were doing everything they could to help me.”

The emergency physician then informed Vivian that her husband would need to be transferred to the SSRH in Bridgewater where he could get a Computer Tomography (CT) scan. This would give his health care team a better picture of what was happening and where any potential bleeds or blockages may be.

“The ambulance was there in a matter of minutes to take him to SSRH,” said Vivian. “The emergency physician at QGH was so supportive. He communicated with me clearly, was careful not to overwhelm me with information but explained to me what I needed to know about David’s condition, interventions, and next steps. He even called me that evening to check on David and myself. I thought that was very thoughtful and I was deeply appreciative. He was then seen immediately for a CT when he got to SSRH.”

Huskins was monitored for two days by his care team in hospital before being discharged. A team which consisted of paramedics, diagnostic imaging, physiotherapy, a dietician, a phone call from pharmacy, an ileostomy nurse and additional emergency nurses and physicians. Looking back at it all, Huskins credits the team’s readiness, responsiveness, and reliable care for his positive health care outcome.

“They’re a well-oiled machine,” said Huskins. “It was just like clockwork. At all points, they just knew exactly what they needed to do and when to do it. From beginning to the end, we couldn’t have been treated any better.”

Huskins has been feeling well since his stroke and is looking toward the future. Huskins finds himself in the driver seat a lot these days, teaching his identical grandsons, who just turned 17 how to drive.

“They’re in drivers’ education but I’ve been taking them out to practice,” said Huskins.

“It’s certainly different from racing but I really enjoy it. All jokes aside, I have a wife, a son, daughter-in-law and two grandsons. I have a lot to live for and I’m grateful for the help and I care I received from everyone that day. I wouldn’t be here without them.”