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Hospital Corner: Respond fast to stroke

by Riley Polumbus
| February 7, 2024 12:00 AM

During a stroke seconds count. A stroke occurs when blood flow to the brain is interrupted and needs to be treated as a medical emergency to minimize the impact on the brain or save someone’s life. It is critical to call 911 immediately if you or someone you are with is showing symptoms, that is, “BE FAST” at recognizing the symptoms:

B = Balance: sudden loss of balance or dizziness.
E = Eyes: change in eyesight, blurriness.
F = Face: one side is drooping.
A = Arm: arm or leg weakness, especially one side.
S = Speech: slurred or difficult speech.
T = Time—dial 911!

“People say they noticed the person ‘being off’ and that is a warning sign, better to be safe and immediately call for help and get to an emergency department to be checked out,” said Shawn Chouinard, RN an Emergency Department Nurse at Logan Health – Whitefish. “Recognition is the key to supporting people with a stoke.” 

When the patient is on their way to Logan Health – Whitefish; the ambulance notifies the emergency department of a “stroke alert” and the staff readies. The emergency physician prepares to meet the patient as soon as possible upon their arrival. The imaging department holds the CT scanner for the patient who is on the way. 

When the patient comes through the door the clock starts and the entire team follows a clear and specific workflow. The patient goes directly to the CT scanner with the receiving nurse and physician. After the scan, the patient is taken to an exam room and the tele-stroke cart is brought in to connect the patient to a neurologist at Logan Health Medical Center. Using video conferencing technology, the patient can be virtually examined and evaluated by the neurologist to determine next steps, all without leaving the emergency department.  

Results from the exam, CT scan along with vitals and other tests determine the next step in the workflow. If the patient meets certain criteria, they receive medication and are transported to Logan Health Medical Center or another facility with an intensive care unit. 

The entire process takes 90 minutes or less.

The workflow at Logan Health – Whitefish is based on the national standard practice, monitored by the state’s Health Department.

In 2023 Logan Health – Whitefish’s emergency department received the Stroke Recognition Award from the state health department for meeting the national standards of practice for acute stroke care. Logan Health Medical Center in Kalispell is also recognized. Requirements for receiving the award include tracking and reporting outcomes for stroke care. This data shows that the hospital is assessing and treating patients with the same standard based on proven results. 

“It is ideal for all of us at Logan Health to deliver the same standard of care,” said Chouinard. “Every physician and every nurse are on the same page, giving the best care possible to these patients.”

If you suspect you or someone you are with is having a stroke, do not wait! B.E. F.A.S.T. and call 911!



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