You might say Kelli Peo Johnson is a bit of a brainiac. As the stroke program coordinator at Indiana University Health Arnett Hospital, she’s dedicated her career to caring for the brain, and she can rattle off plenty of facts about it.
Like this one: 1.9 million brain cells die every minute during a stroke. When it comes to saving those cells, every second counts—and that’s why care teams at IU Health Arnett Hospital work at lightning speed to administer the drug Tissue Plasminogen Activator (tPA) to patients experiencing stroke-like symptoms.
tPA is given to patients through an IV in the arm, and it works by dissolving blood clots that block blood flow to the brain. When administered quickly after stroke onset (within three hours, as approved by the FDA), tPA helps to restore blood flow to brain regions affected by a stroke, limiting the risk of damage and functional impairment.
To recognize the caregivers who have responded quickly to administer this life-saving drug, Johnson manages the “Brain Pin Program” at IU Health Arnett, Frankfort and White Memorial hospitals.
“Part of stroke care,” Johnson says, “is that we want patients to get treatment as soon as they can. So if they give tPA in 45 minutes or less, team members get a bronze brain pin to display on their IU Health badge. If they give it in a half hour or less, they get a gold brain pin.”
There’s also a third award, a helicopter pin, which is given when a patient is transported to the IU Health Methodist Hospital stroke center in 90 minutes or less.
"The pins have become a literal badge of honor for those who work on the stroke floor,” said Johson.
In 2021, more than 120 team members received the awards. IU Health hospitals in the west-central region are on -track to pass that number in 2022, with 85 distributed as of this summer.
The pins are philanthropy-funded and made possible by IU Health Foundation donors who give to the Arnett Area of Greatest Need Fund.
You can make sure even more caregivers can join this elite and honored group by making a donation to the Area of Greatest Need Fund at IU Health Arnett here.