Area residents benefit from nearby Primary Stroke Center

Dr. Christopher Whitty.

When every second counts

Bill Stevenson
– WYANDOTTE WARRIOR

This past spring, Beaumont Hospital, Trenton (formerly Oakwood Southshore), received an honor whose timeliness is of the utmost importance to residents of Southeastern Michigan.  

The Stroke Program at Beaumont Hospital, Trenton, was certified by the Joint Commission and the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association’s Heart-Checkmark for Advanced Certification as a Primary Stroke Center.

The Joint Commission accredits more than 20,500 organizations worldwide and focuses on continually improving health care by setting the highest standards for health care quality throughout the world.  Such accreditation is considered the gold standard in health care.

The Stroke Program at Beaumont Health, Trenton, under the direction of neurology specialist, Dr. Christopher Whitty, M.D. and Dawn Rote, Stroke and Sepsis Coordinator, has made tremendous progress in reducing what the American Stroke Association calls the “door to needle” times for eligible patients being treated with tPA (tissue Plasminogen Activator) or clot buster for acute ischemic strokes.

When it comes to a stroke, time is more than of the essence, it is a matter of life or death: tPA intervention can only be administered up to three hours upon onset of a stroke.

More than 80 percent of strokes are called ischemic strokes caused by a blood clot or plaque that blocks a blood vessel in the brain. The faster physicians can dissolve or remove this blockage, the less damage is done to the brain tissue.

When one is having an ischemic stroke, it is estimated that two million brain cells die every minute until blood flow is restored to the brain.

The other main type of stroke is a hemorrhagic stroke that occurs when a blood vessel bursts in the brain causing blood to spill into or around the brain, creating swelling and pressure, also damaging cells and tissue in the brain. Hemorrhagic strokes make up about 13 percent of stroke cases. Critical in stroke care is knowing the symptoms and reacting in time.

“By adhering to a very specific set of national treatment guidelines, our team at Beaumont, Trenton have made it a priority to deliver high-quality care to all patients affected by stroke,” said Dawn Rote, Stroke Coordinator.

Beaumont Hospital, Trenton, met or exceeded all the standards established by the Joint Commission. 

“We were able to reduce our response times by analyzing the process and the logistics by which we are treating stroke victims, with rapid interpretation of brain imaging, and a holistic team approach to care,” said Rote.  “Part of my job is rapid performance data feedback with live chart auditing, working with the doctors and nurses in making the best determination of treatment for our patients.” 

 This past August, the Stroke Center Team celebrated four stroke cases that had a 20 minute door-to-care response.   

Dr. Christopher Whitty said, “We are proud of our certification as a Primary Stroke Center by the Joint Commission. Our excellent doctors, nurses, and technicians work hard to provide the finest medical care for our patients in a most professional and timely manner.  Our goal is to continually improve our practices and procedures to respond to patients that manifest stroke symptoms, but also to educate our community in healthy living to control the stroke risk factors for brain health.

“The most effective way to reduce stroke mortality is to prevent a stroke from occurring, to begin with.”

With the holidays in full swing, it’s easy to get caught up in the mirth and merriment of the Yuletide, which many times turns into busy, hectic, stressful hurrying to get “everything done.”  More often than not we forget the reason for the season, and become immersed in rampant materialism and overindulgence.

The hustle and bustle of the holidays can bring unexpected, or even tragic medical concerns, including increased risk for heart attacks and strokes.  According to the Mayo Clinic, “several studies have shown that the incident of heart attack and stroke increases in December and January, particularly on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.”

Beaumont Nurse Manager for the Emergency Department, Bill Sweet acknowledges the holiday spike in strokes or heart attacks, but attributes it to patients with pre-existing medical conditions or people with undiagnosed morbidities.

“People with hypertension, diabetes, sedentary lifestyle, with poor diet habits. . . for them, the extra sodium, or alcohol, or fat laden meal, pushes them over the brink, and closer to stroke or heart issues.

“The other problem we see is that people don’t want to ruin the holiday and they wait, which is one of the worst things they can do. Time is brain. Time is heart. Time is muscle.”

Beaumont Hospitals take the FAST acronym of the American Stroke Association, in knowing the signs if you think you or a loved one is having a stroke to a FASTER meaning:

FACE—drooping or numbness on one side of the face; when asked to smile, person’s smile  is uneven.

ARMS—one arm drifts down when raising both arms, or one arm is weaker and more numb.

STABILITY—dizziness, difficulty keeping balance or trouble walking, loss of coordination.

TALKING—slurred words, unable to speak, hard time being understood or understanding  speech.

Eyes—difficulty seeing out of one or both eyes, double vision.

REACT—Call 911 immediately.  Call if a person is experiencing any of these symptoms – even if they go away.  Get to a hospital at once.  Try to remember when the symptoms first began.

Perhaps, this holiday season will be the year that we slow down and savor the time spent and memories made with family and friends. Maybe, we all might find the time to take care of ourselves, spiritually, physically, and emotionally.  Hug your babies.  Much Happiness and Love to you and your family. Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Blessed ‘Eid, Joyous Festivus, Happy Yule, Belated Diwali, Happy Bodhi Day, Bah Humbug!  And have a healthy, happy New Year. 

If you would like more information about identifying the warning signs of stroke, visit: youtube.com/watch?v=wkXJOUe5G60.

If you would like to take a free online stroke risk assessment quiz from Beaumont Hospital, go to:  beaumont.org/free-online-stroke-risk-assessment.

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