Health Beat - Summer 2017 - 7
homes all have important roles to play in the diagnosis,
treatment and care of stroke."
Salina Regional began working toward Primary Stroke
Center certification in 2015. The hospital then developed a
dedicated stroke response team in April 2016. Emergency
responders can activate the team to receive and help treat
stroke patients the moment they arrive at Salina Regional
Members of the team, which includes emergency room
physicians, nurses, radiology staff, pharmacists and lab personnel, have all received specialized training to provide stroke
care. During the first quarter of 2017, Salina Regional's stroke
response team was activated 126 times.
Dedicated to Improvement
A significant aspect of the Primary Stroke Center certification
revolves around staff education and performance improvement. Salina Regional was called to provide 12 months of
stroke response data and show improvement in its processes
before it could be considered for certification.
"This achievement marks a good start to our program,
but really it's only a beginning," says Rachelle Giroux, R.N.,
trauma and stroke program director at Salina Regional.
"Our focus is to improve quality by tracking our efforts and
outcomes in order to continually improve stroke care to
"We've already made many great strides, and it's showing
up in patient outcomes," Ostmeyer says. "We've improved our
time to diagnosis. Our team members are much more confident taking care of stroke patients. But stroke as a disease
is not going anywhere. We're always going to be looking at
our efforts through committees and peer review to strive to
Less than a quarter of Kansas adults can correctly recognize stroke symptoms and know to immediately call 911,
according to a study by the Kansas Department of Health
and Environment. National statistics show a similar lack of
recognition. These statistics are surprising, as stroke is the
fifth-leading cause of death in the United States and a leading
cause of disability.
The acronym FAST is often used to help educate and
enhance response for stroke victims: facial drooping or
uneven smile; arm weakness on one side; speech slurring or
sudden confusion; and time. Time is a critical factor for stroke
patients because most interventions available to treat stroke
must be given within two to three hours.
"Time is brain cells," Ostmeyer says. "Potentially the
sooner we can begin a treatment plan for a patient, the
greater the outcomes can be."1
Signs of Stroke
Keep yourself and your family safe by knowing the
signs of stroke. Use the letters in the word "fast" to
identify symptoms and know when to call for help.
One of the motivations for improving local stroke care
started with a study. Research showed patient outcomes
from stroke were generally worse in rural areas than in metropolitan areas like Kansas City and Wichita, both of which
have comprehensive stroke centers. Salina Regional's efforts
align with an initiative through the Kansas Heart and Stroke
Collaborative to have a Primary Stroke Center serving each
part of the state.
Salina Regional qualifies as a Primary Stroke Center
because of its emergency services' around-the-clock availability, regional referral center for critically ill patients,
neurology specialists, neurosurgery staff and on-site inpatient rehabilitation program.
"It takes open communication between Critical Access
Hospitals, Primary Stroke Centers and Comprehensive Stroke
Centers to coordinate care for patients," Ostmeyer says.
"Many patients in our region can be treated closer to home in
Salina, but when advanced interventions are needed we will
transfer patients to a comprehensive center."
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