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Saint Clare's Receives Certification as Primary Stroke Center


08/31/2007

Nationally Accredited Program to Offer Timely Diagnosis and Interventions on the Nation's #3 Killer
and #1 Leading Cause of Disability

Because minutes could mean the difference between recovery and permanent disability even death for stroke victims, Saint Clare's Health System offers new hope to the community with its designation as a Primary Stroke Center by The Joint Commission, following an on-site review earlier this month. The Stroke Centers, located at Saint Clare's Hospitals in Denville and Dover, provide advanced medical teams that quickly diagnose strokes and transient ischemic attacks (TIAs) and promptly begin treatment, increasing the chances of recovery and reducing chances of permanent disability.

The Joint Commission's Primary Stroke Center Certification is based on the recommendations for primary stroke centers published by the Brain Attack Coalition and the American Stroke Association's statements/guidelines for stroke care. Saint Clare's has demonstrated that its stroke care program follows national standards and guidelines that can significantly improve outcomes for stroke patients.

"Stroke is the third leading cause of death in America and the #1 leading cause of adult disability. Nationally, there are approximately 750,000 strokes yearly and 160,000 of those affected will die," said Jane Smith, RN, Stroke Program Coordinator. "Though methods of treatment have improved and Americans are generally more vigilant with regards to their health, there is still a need for education, awareness, and access to advanced medical care for those who suffer a stroke. The Saint Clare's Stroke Centers are part of our ongoing commitment to serve the needs of those in our community. Our neighbors can now obtain the highest levels of care quickly and easily, raising their chances of a full recovery."  

Stroke is a type of cardiovascular disease, affecting the arteries leading to and within the brain. Primary symptoms of stroke include numbness of the face, arm or leg; confusion or dizziness; problems with balance, vision or speech; and a sudden severe headache. A stroke occurs when a blood vessel carrying oxygen and nutrients to the brain is either blocked by a clot or bursts. When this occurs, part of the brain cannot get the blood and oxygen it needs, and it begins to die. When this happens, the part of the body it controls is affected. Strokes can cause paralysis, affect speech, vision and memory, and cause other problems. 

"The most important part of the treatment of any stroke is prompt and effective intervention, time lost is brain lost," says Paul Roberts, M.D., Medical Director of Saint Clare's Primary Stroke Centers. "Often patients disregard common stroke symptoms as that of less serious conditions and illnesses. A delay in seeking medical help could mean serious, long-term disability or even death."

Smith suggests that the public use the acronym from the National Stroke Association Act FAST to detect and respond to stroke symptoms. FAST represents the following stroke symptom checklist: 

  • F = FACE. Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop
  • A = ARMS. Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
  • S = SPEECH. Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence. Does the speech sound slurred or strange?
  • T = TIME. If you observe any of these signs, call 911 to be brought to the nearest stroke center.

Staffed by a team of specialized doctors, nurses and technologists, Saint Clare's Hospital is ready to evaluate and treat strokes 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  To provide prompt diagnosis, treatment and intervention for stroke patients, the Stroke Team is comprised of Emergency Department physicians and nurses that examine the patient on arrival and order specific diagnostic tests. The most important test is a CT scan of the head, which shows bleeding in the brain. Once the tests are completed, the Saint Clare's stroke team will develop a plan and promptly begin treatment. If there is no bleeding in the brain, treatment may include a clot-busting medication called t-PA (tissue plasminogen activator), which must be administered intravenously (IV) within three (3) hours of the onset of symptoms. 

For stroke patients, Saint Clare's has designated specific inpatient beds, at both locations, for stroke patients and has specially trained nurses and dedicated staff to provide this unique, focused care. The Stroke Centers will work in cooperation with its own rehabilitation center and others in the area to ensure a continuum of care and therapy that may be required. Saint Clare's Hospital also provides screening programs for stroke risk.  Risk factors for stroke include, but are not limited to, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, irregular heart rhythms, smoking, and obesity. 

For more information on the Saint Clare's Stroke Centers or any of its programs or services, call 1-866-STCLARE (1-866-782-5273) or visit the Saint Clare's Health System Web site at www.saintclares.org

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