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When stroke symptoms occur, seconds matter.  Moundview Memorial Hospital’s Emergency Department knows the importance of prompt diagnosis and treatment of stroke.  The hospital has worked continuously to enhance local stroke care and was recently recognized for its achievements by the Wisconsin Coverdell Stroke Program.

“The Coverdell Stroke Program provides data and resources to assist hospitals and emergency medical services (EMS) in coordinating faster access to treatment for stroke patients,” said Lisa Massen, RN, Moundview Emergency Department Manager.  “When we joined Coverdell, we quickly realized the importance of community education in improving stroke care.  Over the past year, we implemented several outreach programs to increase community awareness of stroke symptoms and the importance of calling 911.  Pre-hospital care by EMS has been shown to improve stroke outcomes.”

The hospital’s community education efforts have paid off.  In 2015, the percentage of stroke patients who arrived in Moundview’s Emergency Department by EMS was zero percent.  One year later, 100% had arrived by EMS and the hospital has maintained an exceptionally high percentage ever since.  Coverdell presented Moundview with an award for this achievement and featured the hospital as a success story on the Wisconsin Department of Health Services website at https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/publications/p01768.pdf

Coverdell also recognized Moundview for substantially improving its rate of immediate diagnostic CT head scans for stroke patients upon their arrival in the emergency department.  The hospital’s scan times improved by 16 minutes which was the most improved over all other Coverdell Wisconsin hospitals. 

“We are proud of our recent accomplishments and will continue to build upon them,” said Don Heinz, Moundview CEO. “Our goal is to provide patients with the highest standard of stroke care including state-of-the-art imaging diagnostics, 24-hour access to a neurologist through our new telemedicine services and clot busting medication when warranted.”   “Our new telemedicine service optimizes stroke care for patients, offering real time diagnosis by an off-site neurologist,” said Heinz.  “The neurologist remotely examines the stroke patient using a high resolution camera, computer and medical equipment. The emergency department physician consults with the neurologist to jointly make a diagnosis and recommend treatment.” 

“When a stroke occurs, there is only a small window of time to prevent severe disability or, in some cases, death,” said Massen. “We encourage everyone to learn the acronym BE FAST to help spot a stroke.  BE FAST stands for balance, eyes/vision, facial drooping, arm weakness, speech difficulty and time to call 911.” 

Kathryn Crum knows the importance of immediately calling 911 when you recognize symptoms.  In the fall of 2016, she suffered a stroke at the age of 45. 

“I got up from the couch, felt very dizzy and fell to the floor,” said Crum.  “My head hurt.  I had never felt like this before.  I had no symptoms leading up to this.  Luckily my son was home and he called 911.”    The ambulance transported Crum to Moundview’s Emergency Department where she was examined, diagnosed and received clot busting medication.  She was then flown by helicopter to UW Madison.  For three days she was unable to move her right side and then she slowly regained function.

“I am thankful to the EMS and the staff at Moundview’s Emergency Department,” said Crum.  “If not for their quick actions, the effects of my stroke could have been much worse.  I could have died or been severely disabled.”

While time is of the essence when someone is having a stroke, prevention is the key to avoiding one in the first place.  Some risk factors can’t be changed such as heredity, age and race.  Other risk factors that can be improved, treated or controlled include: high blood pressure, smoking, diabetes, poor diet, physical inactivity and obesity, high blood cholesterol, atrial fibrillation, carotid or other artery disease, peripheral artery disease, other heart disease and sickle cell disease.

“I knew I had a family history of stroke and I had several other risk factors such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and smoking,” said Crum.  “Despite this, I didn’t believe it would happen to me.  I encourage everyone to get an annual check-up, especially if they have risk factors for stroke.”

To learn if you are at risk for a stroke, schedule a checkup with your health care provider or call Moundview’s Family Clinic in Friendship (608) 339-6350 or Westfield (608) 296-6350.