Joe Wright

Working Against the Flow Creates a Wonderful Breakthrough

Joe Wright of Wytheville went to his ophthalmologist with a case of pink eye. What Joe, 83, came away with was, in his own words, “a pretty big shock.”

Joe’s eye doctor had discovered a retinal hemorrhage and suspected a blocked artery, referring Joe for further testing. “I didn’t realize eye trouble could mean my artery was blocked,“ Joe remembers. Testing, however, revealed a left carotid artery that was almost 100 percent blocked.

Joe, as it turned out, was a perfect candidate for a less invasive type of surgery called transcarotid artery revascularization, or TCAR. It’s a procedure doctors at Carilion Clinic’s Aortic Center were among the first in the country to perform. Carilion Roanoke Memorial is a TCAR Center of Excellence, boasting one of only a few board-certified vascular surgeons with fellowship training in vascular interventional radiology in the U.S.

With TCAR, blood flow is reversed and screened. Plaque fragments that could loosen during the procedure and travel to the brain are then caught, greatly reducing the risk of post-operative stroke. TCAR is also minimally invasive, with a smaller incision than the former procedure and a much faster recovery time.

For Joe, that meant being home before noon the day after his surgery. He resumed his regular activities almost immediately—vacuuming, washing the dishes and bringing in wood. Surrounded by family (he and his wife Edith have four grown children and six grandchildren who live nearby), Joe has a lot to smile about.

Quality and Patient Safety are Our Highest Priorities

We apply a “Four Pillars” model that includes a safety culture, analytics, process improvement and human factors. It has helped reduce medical emergencies, lessen the chance for human error, lower infection rates and more. Our approach was recognized by the Next Generation Innovator program at the prestigious National Quality Forum. Carilion was the only health system to have earned this honor.

Our goal: Recognition as a global leader of health care quality and continuous improvement.

Joe with doctor
Joe filling bird feeder