On a typical summer day in July, 36-year-old Rosina Espinoza suddenly felt dizzy. Though she initially thought it was an anxiety attack, she realized it was something more when she tried in vain to reach for a bottle of water. Then she noticed dampness on her arms and legs, and realized she couldn’t speak clearly.

“I knew St. Francis was close by so I drove myself to the ER,” recalled Espinoza, adding with a chuckle, “Don’t do that.”

Espinoza shared her survival story at St. Francis Medical Center in Lynwood on Sept. 30 during a community event to announce the hospital’s recent designation as an Approved Stroke Center by the L.A. County Emergency Medical Services Agency.

With strokes, immediate treatment is vital, said Mary Lynne Knighten, St. Francis vice president of Patient Care Services. “Every minute that a stroke is left untreated, an estimated 1.9 million neurons die, and for every hour, the brain loses as many cells as it does in 3.6 years.” 

According to the American Heart and American Stroke associations, someone has a stroke approximately every 40 seconds in the U.S. (nearly 800,000 people per year). Stroke is the fourth leading cause of death nationwide, and the second leading cause of death in L.A. County.

Espinoza credits her extraordinary recovery to the St. Francis medical team who responded quickly and competently.

“Thank you for saving my life,” she said. “When I see the hospital’s logo and it says, ‘Our Mission is Life,’ I am so proud to say that I approve of that!”