Councilwoman's Family says Hospital Protocol Delayed Treatment

Time is critical when it comes to getting medical care for someone suffering from a stroke, but relatives of Councilwoman Priscilla Leal say she was forced to wait seven hours to get the help she needed.

Leal's daughter, Dina Chavez, said it was not because the treatment wasn't available, but instead, it was a matter of hospital protocol.

Chavez said that the family waited two hours for a decision on whether her mother would be transferred to from Doctor's Regional Medical Center, where she was taken after she suffered a severe stroke last Friday, to Christus Spohn Hospital Shoreline. She said that the only neurological interventionist, a highly specialized stroke doctor, did not have privileges at Doctor's Regional, and would require an accepting physician at Spohn Shoreline before Leal could be transferred there.

In an email sent to 3News, Chavez wrote that she wants to "clear up some misconceptions and inaccuracies." She added that, in the initial moments after her mother was taken to Doctor's Regional, the family was told that "she would need to be cared for by a neurological interventionist" for the type of stroke she suffered.

The email goes on to say that the family was told "there was only one neurological interventionist in town who could possibly perform the medical intervention Mrs. Leal required." The family made contact with that specialist, but were told she would be treated if they "could get [Leal] transferred to Shoreline because [the specialist] did not have privileges at Doctor's Regional.

"The excitement quickly dwindled," she wrote, "when told that Shoreline had to have an accepting physician before we could transfer her there.

"We were told by a medical team that there was a specialist in the Rio Grande Valley who could perform the procedure," Chavez continued. "We decided to transfer my mom to wherever she need to be transferred."

Chavez went on to say that their family "would have loved to have kept [Leal] close to home, where she had so much pride in this city and what she believed Corpus Christi had to offer, but unfortunately that was not how it worked out."

Despite the wait, Chavez said "we as a family made the best decision we could," adding that they "also learned that there is no comprehensive stroke facility in the Corpus Christi area. We only have primary stroke facilities, which means there are no physicians on call 24/7 for stroke patients."

Chavez ended her email by saying "our message to the community is to learn as much as you can about strokes."

3News contacted Christus Spohn Shoreline and Doctor's Regional. Spohn responded, saying that "Christus Spohn has no record that anyone from Doctor's Regional contacted Christus Spohn Hospital Corpus Christi-Shoreline regarding Mrs. Leal. 24 hours a day, seven days a week, we have admitting physicians available."

They go on to say that they "wish the family and Mrs. Leal the best in their recovery."

As of 6 p.m. Wednesday, Doctor's Regional had yet to respond.


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