Newswise — EDISON, NJ, May 16, 2022– January 5, 2022 started off just like any other workday for Hackensack Meridian JFK University Medical Center Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) Michael (Mike) DiMeglio, 28. Although Mike had been diagnosed with COVID-19 13 days before, he was fully recovered and ready to start his noon-to-midnight shift.

But when Mike was doing a pre-shift rig check on his emergency medical services (EMS) vehicle at his station, he noticed something odd.

“I started seeing what I can only describe as a ‘blurb’ in my vision on the right side,” said Mike, who initially thought his vision disturbance might be related to the chronic headaches he experiences. “At first, I didn’t think anything of it, but then I started losing peripheral vision in my right eye.”

When Mike — who is also a nursing student at Middlesex County Community College — told his supervisor he was having trouble seeing, his supervisor checked his vitals and offered to drive him to the hospital. But within a few minutes, Mike began feeling weak and developed a headache behind his eyes.

Mike called his friend and colleague Elaine Kilijanski, a senior medic for JFK University Medical Center, who was in the middle of her shift staffing an advanced life support (ALS) vehicle. 

“I told her to get over here,” said Mike. “I knew what was happening, but I just couldn’t manage to say, ‘I think I’m having a stroke.’”

Elaine arrived and began to assess Mike’s condition, his right arm and leg felt “heavy.” 

“When he called me, I could tell that he was having trouble forming words — he was almost stuttering,'' said Elaine. “When I got there, Mike’s speech was slightly slurred, and he was having trouble finding words and following commands, so we initiated our stroke protocols — including calling in a pre-hospital stroke code.”

Elaine knew just where she needed to go to get Mike the help he needed: JFK University Medical Center. 

JFK University Medical Center was the first hospital on the East Coast— and one of only eight hospitals in the U.S. at that time — to earn its Comprehensive Stroke Center certification from the Joint Commission. JFK also received America’s 100 Best Hospitals for Stroke Care in 2022 from Healthgrades. 

Today, that certification means that patients like Mike have access to the highest level of stroke care and a full range of stroke treatments — from clot-busting medications to neurointerventional procedures and neurosurgery — delivered by expert physicians. In addition to providing top-notch stroke care, JFK University Medical Center is also committed to offering comprehensive educational programs for residents and fellows under the leadership of Jawad Kirmani, M.D., and Spozhmy Panezai, M.D.

When Mike arrived at the Emergency Department, his friend Tyler Glagola, an EMT and a charge nurse in the JFK University Medical Center Emergency Department (ED), accompanied the stroke team to meet him at the door. The neurology residents staffing the ED ordered an immediate CT scan for Mike. After reviewing the results, they ordered tenecteplase, a clot-busting medication.

“COVID-19 can cause the blood to thicken, which can increase the risk of clot formation. Our residents are so well-trained that they immediately recognized that Mike was having a stroke and administered the medication,” said Siddhart Mehta, M.D., neurointerventionalist at JFK University Medical Center. “No time was wasted, and Mike started improving within 7-8 minutes of receiving the medication. He was completely back to normal within 30 minutes.”

After a 28-hour stay in the hospital, Mike was discharged with no deficits — a remarkable outcome. However, during his stroke work-up, Mike also received another life-saving piece of information.

“My doctors found a small aneurysm in my brain,” said Mike, who is now on a blood-thinning medication and is undergoing additional testing to rule out potential neurovascular or cardiac conditions that could have caused his stroke.

“Our hospital is unique because our neurologists, neurointerventionalists and neurosurgeons meet at a neurovascular conference to discuss each aneurysm case and develop a collaborative plan for treatment or ongoing monitoring,” said Dr. Mehta. 

Mike said he is grateful for the expert stroke care he received, as well as the support of his colleagues and friends. He believes his experience will benefit him in his future career as a nurse. 

“I was so thankful that Elaine and Tyler were there, and I am grateful for the physicians who are so professional and good at what they do,” said Mike. “Now, I know what patients are experiencing when they have a health event, which will help me treat them with professionalism, empathy and compassion.”

Because of Mike’s young age, his care team suspects his stroke may have been related to his recent COVID-19 diagnosis.

 “Although many people assume that strokes only happen to older people, we are seeing a lot of younger people who are having strokes associated with COVID-19,” said Dr. Mehta. “That’s why it’s so important for everyone to know the symptoms of stroke and know where to go to receive comprehensive care.”

To make an appointment with a member of our Neuroscience team, call 800-822-8905 or visit our website: 


About Hackensack Meridian JFK University Medical Center

Serving residents of central New Jersey for more than 50 years, JFK University Medical Center offers a complete array of advanced services in its 498-bed facility located in Edison, N.J. With more than 1,000 affiliated physicians, this academic medical center offers a complete spectrum of advanced services including general and specialized surgery, cardiac care, maternity and pediatrics, oncology, imaging, breast center, sleep center, wound care, robotic surgery, emergency medicine, weight loss surgery, radiology, long-term care and assisted living. It is home to the world-renowned Neuroscience Institute that diagnoses and treats brain, spine and nervous system disorders. To learn more, visit