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HaysMed Declared Emergent Stroke Ready

The American Heart Association Applauds Hays Medical Center as being one of 32 Kansas hospitals declared as Emergent Stroke Ready

Stroke mortality rate is higher in rural Kansasthan urban community counterparts.  This created a need for a statewide system of stroke care. HaysMedicalCenterwas one of the first to become part of the solution.

KANSAS (June 18, 2012) – Today the American Heart Association and the Kansas State Stroke Task Force announced 32 Kansas hospitals that are officially Emergent Stroke Ready and able to adequately care for a stroke patient brought to their facility. Hays Medical Centerin Hays was one of those hospitals who provided the necessary documentation to be named as Emergent Stroke Ready as part of the Kansas Initiative For Stroke Survival (KISS). 

"Because stroke treatment must be initiated within a very short time frame it is crucial that medical facilities, regardless of size, be prepared to evaluate and treat these patients, and if necessary, transfer them to a larger facility," said Dr. Lechtenberg, neurologist and chairperson of the Kansas State Stroke Task Force.  "In Kansas, we are calling that readiness, Emergent Stroke Ready.  Without these facilities, treatment options are greatly reduced." 

To date, there are currently 42 hospitals participating in the KISS in one of three categories: Emergent Stroke Ready (32), Primary Stroke Center or 24/7 Neuro-Interventional Center.  Emergent Stroke Ready hospitals (ESRHs) can diagnose, treat, and transport acute stroke patients to a higher level of care as warranted.  ESRHs must also annually attest to the Kansas State Stroke Task Force their continued compliance with designation criteria.  

Led by a team of 50 medical professionals known as the Kansas State Stroke Task Force, KISS is a project BY Kansans, FOR Kansans.  The task force, which began in 2004, was created to study and address the issue of stroke care in Kansas and develop a comprehensive system of stroke care.  Since its inception it has been directly supported by the American Heart Association.   During phase one of the initiative, 42 hospitals have submitted their data to be officially recognized within the Kansas System of Stroke Care.  However, there is much work to be done in subsequent phases to get the remaining 84 hospitals in Kansas to participate. 

According to the American Heart Association, the expected use of tPA (clot buster) as a stroke treatment is 10 – 15 percent.  The use of tPA in Kansas is a mere one to two percent.  "Part of the reason for this low treatment rate is limited access to neurologists, stroke specialists or physicians that have more experience in recognition and treatment of stroke," said Dr. Lechtenberg.  "ESRHs now have 24/7 telephone access to stroke physicians to aid in appropriate treatment and transfer of stroke patients.  This helps hospitals that do not have this stroke expertise to be prepared to urgently treat a stroke." 

In 2008 the task force studied a statewide stroke survey that revealed less than 25 percent of Kansans knew the signs and symptoms for a stroke and that calling 9-1-1should be the first response to a stroke.  During another survey administered to Kansasmedical facilities in 2010, a staggering 43 percent of Kansashospitals noted that they were not equipped or staffed to care for stroke patients.  Additionally, less than 18 percent had tPA (clot buster) available.

"We hope this new system of stroke care will essentially save more lives in Kansas," said Cherie Boxberger, director of quality and system improvement, American Heart Association.  "To help do this we also need the remaining 84 hospitals in Kansas involved.  With 100 percent participation from medical facilities and EMS Services across the state, we can optimize treatment and save more lives!" 

The American Heart Association encourages anyone living in Hays who appears to have the signs and symptoms of a stroke to immediately call 9-1-1 and request to be sent to Hays Medical Center.  Be sure to note when the stroke victim was last known to be well. 

Signs and Symptoms of a Stroke include sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body; sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding; sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes; sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination; sudden severe headache with no known cause. 

"Stroke is a medical emergency and time lost is brain lost," said Dr. Lechtenberg.  "Anyone showing signs of a stroke MUST be evaluated in a hospital within the stroke system of care as soon as possible."  If given within three hours, a clot-busting drug called tPA can reduce long-term disability for the most common type of stroke. 

Dr. Lechtenberg continued, "If you or someone you know is showing the signs of a stroke don't go to bed and see if you are better in the morning, don't wait to see if you feel better tomorrow, and most certainly don't bypass your local Emergent Stroke Ready hospital."   

Stroke is the fourth leading cause of death for all Kansans and is the leading cause of disability; that's one in every 16 deaths.  Fortunately as a nation, stroke mortality rates are decreasing, however Kansas has a higher rate of death due to stroke compared to the national average (46.5 versus 43.6 for the U.S. – mortality rate per 100,000).  Additionally, stroke mortality is higher for African Americans in Kansas than their white counterparts and those living in rural communities also have a higher stroke mortality rate than those in urban or semi-urban Kansas communities. 

For more information visit www.StrokeAssociation.org/Kansas.  The KISS map will be updated quarterly as more Kansas hospitals become part of the Kansas System of Stroke Care.