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Published on May 21, 2021

Birthday Blessings: A Happy Ending to a Stroke

The last place Harold Goad wanted to be on his birthday, turned out to be the best place for him.


No one wants to spend their birthday in the hospital. But Harold Goad now feels blessed to have been there.

Goad first thought the numbness in his left leg was a pinched nerve. But when his left arm starting feeling numb a short while later, he realized it might be more serious.  Harold Goad

“When I called my son, who lives nearby, he told me to call 911 right away. I realized it was important to get seen quickly,” says Goad, who had retired from his Ohio-based home improvement business and moved to Madison the year before. “The two EMS ladies who arrived by ambulance calmly explained what they were doing and recommended I go to Annie Penn Hospital. That was the best decision I could have ever made.”

At Annie Penn Hospital, scans revealed Harold had experienced a small stroke. He would be in the hospital for observation and care for 48 hours. When, Emily Wright, RN, realized he would be there for his birthday, she wished him a happy birthday on his room’s white information board. Later, the dietary staff brought a celebratory placemat with his meal. Soon, others began offering heartfelt wishes.

“It seemed like the whole hospital knew it was my birthday. The nurses even gave me a signed card,” warmly recalls Goad. “All the nurses were wonderful, thoroughly likable people. I could tell this was more than a job for them. They were truly concerned about me. They treated me just like family.”

While Goad’s stroke was mild, acting fast and calling 911 was critical to his recovery. According to the Centers for Disease Control, getting to the emergency room shortly after experiencing symptoms leads to improved outcomes for most people. Every 40 seconds, someone in the U.S. has a stroke, so it is important for everyone to know the signs.

Even though Goad spent most of his birthday at the hospital, he is grateful he was able to head home that evening…and count his blessings. “The last thing I wanted to do was go to the hospital that night,” says Goad. “However, that turned out to be the right decision.” Even though I spent my birthday in the hospital, I would have missed a lot of blessings if I had not gone,” reflects Harold.

The Joint Commission has named Annie Penn Hospital an Acute Stroke Ready Hospital. This program recognizes hospitals that meet rigorous standards and support better outcomes for patient stroke care. In 2020, Annie Penn Hospital achieved Gold Plus, Target: Stroke Elite recognition from the American Heart Association.