Teams at USF Health, Tampa General Save Local Doctor After Two StrokesPublished: Dec 1, 2022
By Kurt Loft
Although stroke is a leading killer, experts say it demands more attention and funding.
On a Thursday night in mid-January, Dr. Rahul N. Mehra, a prominent Tampa psychiatrist, wasn’t feeling well and laid down on a couch in his south Tampa home. His wife Cathy was resting in the bedroom when she heard a loud thump and came out to investigate. She found her husband on the floor, disoriented.
“She looked at me and clearly realized that something wasn’t right,’’ Dr. Mehra said. “She asked me ‘who am I?’ and I wasn’t able to respond, so she immediately called the paramedics.’’
Dr. Mehra is the CEO and Chief Physician Executive for the National Center for Performance Health (NCPH), a Tampa based health care company. NCPH creates and provides original and innovative resources intended to empower professional and amateur athletes of all ages. NCPH clients include large and small businesses, schools, colleges, universities and non-profit agencies. Dr. Mehra created a tool kit called Emotional Vaccines to address the effect of stress for individuals and families.
“Tampa General Hospital was just seven minutes away, so the paramedics got me there quick, and that saved my life.’’
But something else kept him motivated to live: “My spiritual belief pulled me through,’’ said the 60-year-old MD. “And my wife. If it wasn’t for her quick thinking, I might not be here today.’’
When the paramedics placed their patient into the ambulance, one of Dr. Mehra’s neighbors walked over to see what the commotion was about. She looked at him and held her hands together in prayer. In response, he gave her a thumbs up to say, “I’m going to be ok.’’
And there was also COVID to consider: Both Dr. Mehra and Cathy had recently been vaccinated for COVID, but he still tested positive. From there, it was up to a quickly assembled medical team at TGH to get Dr. Mehra back on his feet. Two days later, while in his hospital bed, Dr. Mehra suffered a second stroke.
Being a Saturday, some of the neurosurgery crew had to be called into work, led by Dr. W. Scott Burgin, Professor and Cerebrovascular Division Chief at the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine’s Department of Neurology and director of the Comprehensive Stroke Center at Tampa General Hospital.
“The nurse on shift found me unresponsive and alerted Dr. Burgin,’’ Dr. Mehra said.
The TGH team conducted a CAT scan and quickly identified the problem. “We converged on him within a matter of minutes, opened his artery back up and removed the clot in short order. Everyone worked as a finely tuned team,’’ Dr. Burgin said.