BRANTFORD – JUNE 20, 2016 – On August 28, 2014, Ian and Mary Black’s lives changed forever.

That was the day Ian had a stroke.

“We were just outside talking,” said Mary. “I looked over … and his eye had drooped; his face had drooped. I said ‘are you okay?’

“He slid down the car. Everything changed at that moment,” she said.

The Blacks have a farm just east of Brantford, Ontario where Ian spends his days as any farmer does, farming and acting as a jack-of-all-trades around the property. After the stroke, Mary called 9-1-1 immediately and Ian was taken to Brantford General Hospital. He was administered a Tissue Plasminogen Activator (tPA). tPA is a ‘clot buster’ that can be used to treat strokes caused by a clot. It must be given within four-and-one-half hours of the onset of stroke symptoms.

Unfortunately, Ian’s stroke was severe and he didn’t respond as the doctors hoped.

The stroke affected the left side of Ian’s brain, which controls the right side of your body. Therefore, his whole right side was affected. He had lost use of right hand and arm as well as his speech.

Ian was admitted to the Integrated Stroke Unit at Brantford General.  All patients with a diagnosis of Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA or mini stroke) or acute stroke requiring admission to hospital are admitted to the Integrated Stroke Unit at Brantford General. The care teams on this unit have been trained in acute and rehab stroke care management and all stroke patients have a ‘Stroke Passport’ to guide their care and recovery.  After their stay on the Integrated Stroke Unit, the stroke survivor may go to outpatient rehabilitation, receive in-home stroke rehabilitation, be discharged home, or to another facility.

“An integrated stroke unit is unique in that the same care providers and teams remain with the patient throughout both the acute and rehabilitation phases of a patient’s stroke care,” said Brantford General District Stroke Coordinator Susan Pajor. “This provides ample opportunity for therapeutic relationships to develop, trust to be established, and progress toward goals to be celebrated by patients and their families together with a consistent team of healthcare professionals.

He slid down the car. Everything changed at that moment
Mary Black

“A further advantage of an Integrated Stroke Unit is that there is no geographical relocation required once the transition to rehab occurs. As in Mr. Black’s case, rehab began from the same room and bed that he was admitted to, thereby reducing interruptions in care and enhancing the patient experience,” she said.

Pajor said the Integrated Stroke Unit at Brantford General held its official opening on Oct. 30, 2013 and has never looked back. “We know through research and current evidence that early access to a stroke unit is an effective, proactive approach to care that saves lives and improves outcomes. The path to opening an integrated stroke unit is not an easy journey, but the destination is worth every hill that requires climbing along the way,” she said.
Ian spent eight weeks in speech, occupational and physical therapy. Now, he can move his arm freely. He is still working on his right hand and his speech. He also suffers from Aphasia – an impairment of language, affecting the production or comprehension of speech and the ability to read or write.

“The treatment we received at Brantford General was excellent,” said Mary. “Every day there was so much hands on. [The care workers] saw his potential, even with Ian having such a severe stroke.”

Ian, who now walks with the help of a cane, is attending a rehabilitation arts program in Brantford and will attend a Community Stroke Wellness Program, Fit for Function in the fall.

Mary said that Ian having a stroke has “definitely affected our lives.” Before the stroke, Ian was very active. He indicated that it can be difficult to have someone help you do the work you were so used to performing yourself, but the excellent care he received through the Integrated Stroke Unit has let him see the light at the end of the tunnel.

The Black’s son was recently married and Ian and Mary were able to dance at the wedding. And although he’s still on the mend, Ian is back to what he does so well, farming.


As of April 1, 2016, the OSN and CCN have come together as a single entity to ensure a comprehensive and integrated approach to cardiac, vascular and stroke care in Ontario.

The CCN is a system support to the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (MOHLTC), Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs), hospitals, and care providers dedicated to improving quality, efficiency, access and equity in the delivery of the continuum of cardiovascular services in Ontario. In addition to helping plan, coordinate, implement and evaluate cardiovascular care in Ontario, CCN is responsible for developing, maintaining and reporting on the provincial cardiac and vascular registries. In the role of monitoring and enhancing quality of cardiac and vascular services in Ontario, CCN develops strategies, based on best practices, to better manage cardiovascular disease across the continuum of care, including strategies to prevent acute hospital re-admissions, decrease demand on emergency departments and decrease the need for initial and repeat procedures. The Cardiac Care Network of Ontario is funded by the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.

The Stroke Month 2016 website is


Patrick Moore
Communications Manager, Cardiac Care Network (Stroke Services)
4100 Yonge Street, Suite 502, Toronto, Ontario M2P 2B5 |
Cell: (647) 308-4732