When Stroke Strikes, Seconds Count

When Stroke Strikes, Seconds Count

UPMC Chautauqua WCA Receives Primary Stroke Center Designation

When it comes to stroke response, the newly designated Primary Stroke Center at UPMC Chautauqua WCA is saving time and saving lives.  The local hospital is the only Primary Stroke Center in Chautauqua County.  The designation means that the expert team at UPMC Chautauqua WCA is ready 24 hours a day, seven days a week with the latest evidenced-based treatments for stroke.

According to the American Heart Association, nearly 800,000 people in the United States have a stroke every year, with about three in four being first-time strokes.

This designation is an incredible testament of our commitment to enhance quality care and save lives,” said Betsy T. Wright, president UPMC Chautauqua WCA.  “Having this highly-regarded endorsement from the New York State Department of Health means a nonpartisan body of experts recognizes the value of this measure to improve health care for our patients.  This recognition demonstrates the dedication of our physicians and staff in providing the highest quality of care to our patients.”

Occupational Therapists, members of the Primary Care Stroke team, help stroke survivors learn strategies to manage daily activities such as eating, bathing, dressing, writing or cooking.

Hospitals that receive certification as a Primary Stroke Center have proved their dedication to fostering better outcomes for stroke patients. The Primary Stroke Center certification is important to hospitals like UPMC Chautauqua WCA as it improves the quality of care provided to patients and validates its commitment to a higher standard of care and service.

One of the overreaching goals of the stroke designation is to achieve door-to-needle times within 60 minutes for acute ischemic stroke patients treated with tissue plasminogen activator or TPA. “We are thoroughly devoted to providing our patients the highest quality stroke care centered on current scientific research to ensure continued improvement in treatment,” states Emelia Lindquist Harley, MSN, RN, clinical director, UPMC Chautauqua WCA.  “A focus on shortening the time to treatment means that patients have a better chance of recovering after a stroke.  We know that every fifteen minutes that we treat faster, fewer patients die from strokes.”

Emelia states that being designated a Primary Stroke Center signify that the hospital has a comprehensive approach to stroke care in place.  “We are proud to serve the community with an all-inclusive plan of care for those diagnosed with a stroke,” Emelia says.  “From implementing the best practice standards in the emergency room to outstanding inpatient care and excellent rehabilitation services, we provide the needs of patients affected by stroke within the sensitive timelines that have been identified through research.”

Time is of the essence when treating patients with stroke.  UPMC Chautauqua WCA brings telemedicine stroke specialists to the local hospital.  “Featuring a computer monitor and remote-controlled camera that allows for two-way audio and video communication, stroke experts can see and assess the patients in real time,” explains Emelia.  “With help from the emergency department physician and hospitalist, we determine if a patient is a candidate for acute stroke therapy, including intravenous TPA.”

Post-stroke rehabilitation is a huge part of the stroke recovery process. Physical therapists are able to guide patients through the stages of stroke recovery as they relearn basic muscle movements.

According to the American Heart Association, someone dies from heart disease, stroke or another cardiovascular disease every 43 seconds in the country. Yet, research indicates that few people understand what a stroke is and how to recognize when a stroke is happening.

A stroke happens when blood flow to an area of the brain is cut off.  Brain cells are deprived of oxygen and begin to die.  “A stroke can cause permanent loss of speech, movement, and memory,” says Emelia who guided the hospital’s designation process.  “By learning the acronym, FAST, you can help detect and enhance the responsiveness to stroke victims and potentially save lives.”

The letter F.A.S.T. can help individuals remember what the sudden signs of stroke are:

  • Face drooping
  • Arm weakness
  • Speech difficulty
  • Time to call 9-1-1

Emelia also tells us if you are experiencing signs or symptoms of a stroke, it is very important to get immediate medical attention.  “Call 9-1-1 immediately,” Emelia cautions.  “Always err on the side of caution.  Immediate treatment may help minimize the long-term effects of stroke and improve a patient’s recovery outcome.  Thanks to recent medical advances, stroke treatments and survival rates have improved over the last decade.”

Interested groups, agencies, and organizations who are interested in learning more about stroke care at your next meeting, can contact the UPMC Chautauqua WCA Speakers’ Bureau at 716-664-8614 to schedule a health care speaker. For more information about UPMC Chautauqua WCA, go to UPMCChautauquaWCA.org.

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