Ascension Saint Joseph Honors Area First Responders for Stroke Treatment Partnership with Barna Brain Awards

On Monday and Tuesday, May 23 and 24, Ascension Saint Joseph – Joliet made its first presentations of its new Barna Brain Awards to area first responders who were instrumental in ensuring timely treatment for two of the hospital’s stroke patients.


The first Barna Brain Award was presented to Brian Gimbel, Nicholas Morgan, Jason Perine and Dustin Vandermeir of Lockport Township Fire Protection on Monday for their efforts in ensuring a recent patient received timely treatment for their stroke. Then, on Tuesday, Joshua Gardner and Thomas Meyer of the Troy Fire Protection District were honored for their efforts.


The Barna Award is named for Leslie Barna, the former stroke coordinator for Ascension Saint Joseph who passed away last year. To honor her many years as a nurse caring for patients affected by stroke and other neurological conditions, hospital leadership and staff established the Barna Award to recognize the efforts of the hospital’s care partners in stroke treatment, as well as educating the public on the importance of fast and efficient treatment in the event of a stroke.


Barna made saving the brain of stroke patients her life’s work. She knew and taught that the quicker a patient receives proper care, there was less damage to the brain and a greater chance for recovery. The Barna Brain Award will be presented quarterly to those community partners assisting in achieving the shortest response times for treatment for our patients.


“We also want to stress that everyone know they should BE FAST if they suspect a stroke,” said Leslie Livett, trauma program coordinator for Ascension Saint Joseph and a good friend of Barna. “The faster you get help, the better the chances of recovery. Every second your brain isn’t getting oxygen or blood flow, brain cells are dying. So, we want everyone to BE FAST.”


Livett advised calling 911 as soon as the symptoms of stroke appear:


              B = Balance — Does the person have sudden loss of balance?

              E = Eyes — Has the person lost or blurred vision in one or both eyes?

              F = Face — Does the person’s face look uneven, with one side drooping or numb?

              A = Arm — Is one arm weak or numb? 

              S = Speech — Is the person’s speech slurred, are they having trouble speaking or seem confused?  

              T = Time — Call 911 now!


“We’re so thrilled to be able to honor these community first responders in Leslie’s name,” said Livett. “I know this is how she would have wanted to be remembered, by saving even more lives.”


On Tuesday, May 24, 2022, staff from Ascension Saint Joseph – Joliet presented first responders with the Troy Fire Protection District. Pictured here, left to right, are Dr. Kaiz Asif, Thomas Meyer, Joshua Gardner and Fire Chief Andrew Doyle. Photo by Ascension Saint Joseph – Joliet.