Tag Archives: CHI Health

Faith, Miracles, and New Hope for Stroke Patients

January 16, 2017 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

For most of human history, suffering a stroke has been a death sentence.

It’s the No. 5 cause of death in the United States (according to the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association) killing nearly 130,000 people a year—one in every 20 deaths.

So excuse Dr. Vishal Jani if he speaks with what some might consider hyperbole when explaining the newest treatment of the dreaded disease.

“I call it a miracle,” Jani says. “I call it beyond belief if it is done in time. It is…the restoration of life.”

If strokes don’t kill, they debilitate, rendering two-thirds of survivors paralyzed, unable to speak, or otherwise disabled. Most strokes—87 percent—are classified as ischemic, occurring when a clot or mass blocks a blood vessel. Blood and oxygen are cut off to the brain, killing its cells. Hemorrhagic strokes happen when a blood vessel ruptures and prevents blood flow to the brain.

Jani was around 3 when his grandmother suffered a stroke. There was nothing his father, also a surgeon, could do to help her.

“The struggle that comes along with this disease, not just to the patient, but to the family, is mind-boggling,” he says.

Until 1996, most advances against the disease focused on prevention. That year, though, the Food and Drug Administration approved tissue plasminogen activator (tPA), a clot-busting drug that treats ischemic strokes.

It’s administered through an IV in the arm, but typically must be done so within three hours of the first symptoms. It has only a 30 percent success rate.

Now comes revolutionary stroke treatment—and hope—with a new procedure for ischemic strokes called mechanical thrombectomy. And Jani, an interventional neurologist at CHI Health’s Neurological Institute at Immanuel Medical Center, is the first neurologist in the state to perform the procedure. He does so by threading a catheter through an artery in the patient’s groin to the blocked artery in the brain. A stent retriever at the end of the catheter attaches to—then removes—the trapped clot, resuming blood flow to the brain.

Jani likens it to unclogging a pipe.

“We basically are no different than glorified plumbers,” he says with a laugh.

The procedure has an 80-90 percent success rate. And early guidelines give a larger window than tPA for when treatment can occur—within six hours of the onset of symptoms. Jani cites a forthcoming study that will recommend the procedure even up to 24 hours after symptoms begin.

Average time to perform this life-saving procedure? Nineteen minutes.

“It is mind-boggling,” Jani says. “It is amazing.”

By the start of November, Jani and his partner had performed the procedure almost 30 times.

“And a lot of those patients have gone home with minimal or no problems,” he says.

That includes an 89-year-old, still-working farmer hospitalized for other conditions when he suffered a stroke that left him unable to speak and weak on his left side. Given the farmer’s age, his family figured the stroke signaled the end of his life. Jani convinced them to let him try the procedure. The farmer regained his speech immediately and was back to his routine 10 days later.

Another patient, 31 and the father of a newborn, went home the day after Jani performed the thrombectomy. Though he was back in the hospital seven days later with another stroke, he returned to his newborn once more after a second thrombectomy.

Another save—and another reminder of why he entered this field.

“I went in this field of training with just a leap of faith that I wanted to help these people,” he says.

His faith is bringing forth miracles.

Visit chihealth.com/neurosciences-care for more information about the CHI Health Neurological Institute.

Dr. Vishal Jani

This article was printed in the January/February 2018 edition of Omaha Magazine.

Joan Neuhaus

December 27, 2016 by
Photography by Keith Binder

“A good education is critical, but a lot of it is learning as you go and moving into opportunities as they present themselves,” she says. “If someone had said, ‘do you know how to conduct strategic planning?’ I would have said, ‘No. But I am eager to learn and willing to do my best. So let’s give it a shot.’”

-Joan Neuhaus

 Joan Neuhaus didn’t set out to become a health care executive after graduating with bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Creighton University in the early 1980s. But when she landed a marketing position at Bergan Mercy Hospital, she quickly discovered she had an affinity and passion for the health care industry and its chief mission—helping people.

“I have been with CHI Health or one of its legacy organizations (such as Bergan Mercy) for 31 years,” the Omaha native says. “It has been a tremendous opportunity to work with an operation whose values mirror my own.”

These values run deeper than the typical business values of honesty, integrity, and hard work, says Neuhaus, now a senior vice president and the chief operating officer for CHI Health. CHI values, she says, create a healing environment that’s faithful to the ministry of Jesus Christ.

“It’s respect for the dignity of every person, treating every patient as an individual and respecting their choices, positions, and background. Having that value set and coming to an organization that respects and preserves that in every interaction has been very powerful for me.”

Enabling Connections
As CHI Health’s COO, Neuhaus manages the operations of 15 hospitals, lines of health care services outside of hospitals, and 7,000 to 8,000 of the health care organization’s 12,000 employees. That awesome responsibility requires a strong leadership philosophy that ensures the best-possible health care for patients while achieving the organization’s financial goals.

In complex organizations such as CHI, leadership is about mobilizing employees to take on tough problems, she says, tapping employees’ intelligence and other talents.

“My role is as an enabler. I make the connections between the parts of the organization that need to come together to figure out a problem,” she says. “It’s messy; it’s a little chaotic. It’s trusting that you have the right people in place and that you connect the right people to the right people.”

The key, Neuhaus says, is to just set the direction and not micromanage. Leaders need to give people clear direction and then let them go to work.

Take Risks, Always Learn
As a woman, hurdles must be overcome to reach the executive suite. After all, that’s why the phrase “glass ceiling” was coined.

Neuhaus offers simple recommendations for leadership success: eagerly take on new opportunities, deal with conflict productively, read and learn as much as you can, and most importantly, focus on building relationships every step of the way.

“A good education is critical, but a lot of it is learning as you go and moving into opportunities as they present themselves,” she says. “If someone had said, ‘do you know how to conduct planning?’ I would have said, ‘No. But I am eager to learn and willing to do my best. So let’s give it a shot.’”

It’s the advice Neuhaus and her husband give their 30-year-old daughter.

“Take some risks, take some initiative in areas you might not be comfortable with, and develop the relationships you need to be successful,” Neuhaus says. “Life is not a solo sport.”

Visit chihealth.com for more information.

Joan Neuhaus

Joan Neuhaus