Stroke patient starts grateful patient program to expand Emergency Department


John Forst woke up at 3:45 a.m. with a bad cramp in his left leg. He got up to walk it off and fell down and couldn’t get up. He realized he was having a stroke.

“I was scared to death,” John said as he contemplated this might be the big one and he might never get back up.

His wife woke up two hours later, found him on the floor and called 9-1-1.

He was rushed to Palomar Medical Center Escondido where a specialized team greeted him to scan his brain, neck and blood vessels. Time is critical when you are having a stroke.

“Every minute that you wait to go to the ER you lose approximately two million brain cells,” Palomar Health Neurohospitalist Dr. Gary Gualberto says.

John had a stroke in the area of the brain that controls mostly motor function.

“It’s a scary thing when you realize stuff you have been able to do for long time you can no longer do,” John said.

After recovering at the hospital for four days, John was transferred to Acute Rehabilitation.

Palomar Health Medical Director of Acute Rehabilitation Dr. Keyvan Esmaeili remembers John having a hard time accepting he couldn’t go home and needing three hours of therapy each day. Dr. Esmaeili says John had a functional decline and wasn’t able to safely take care of himself.

“The hardest thing was remembering how to walk again,” John said.

John was so thankful for the care he received; he started a grateful patient program to raise money to expand the emergency department.

“The biggest thing I tell them (medical staff) is thank you. I don’t think they get to hear that kind of thing. It’s a small word to use to thank someone for saving your life; that’s what they did.”

Thanks to John’s efforts and others, the Palomar Medical Center Escondido Emergency Department will be opening a new wing in the spring of this year.

Return To Previous Page