Kirby Medical Center, Monticello, has received designation as an Acute Stroke Ready Hospital (ASRH) from the Illinois Department of Public Health.
“This designation ensures that all stroke patients, regardless of where they live, have access to rapid care within the narrow treatment window,” said Steve Tenhouse, CEO. “Prior to receiving this designation, patients would have had to travel a long distance to receive assistance, losing precious time. Stroke designation for Kirby Medical Center now allows local access to the care needed beginning the moment they enter the hospital to the time the lifesaving drug is administered within the recommended 60 minute treatment window. ”
In 2009, the Illinois General Assembly passed MB2244, allowing the creation of stroke systems of care in Illinois. The law identifies hospitals capable of providing emergent stroke care and directs EMS to transport possible acute stroke patients to these hospitals. If, however, the closest hospital has not received its Acute Stroke Ready Hospital designation, EMS personnel may divert that patient to the next closest designated hospital. With our local hospital designated, it now means stroke patients can receive high quality treatment right here in their own community.
In response, the Illinois Critical Access Hospital Network (ICAHN) created its Stroke Initiative in March of 2010 to increase the number of small and rural hospitals achieving the designation. The initiative has received international attention for its success in treating stroke patients in the rural areas of Illinois.
“In order to gain the ASRH designation, the hospital must meet specific criteria, and Kirby Medical Center has worked for three years to achieve this,” said Peggy Jones, ICAHN Stroke Consultant. “Now that our hospitals are prepared, it is our ongoing challenge to educate the community on the signs of stroke and to immediately call 911.
“With stroke, time is brain…Each second a patient waits to be treated denies the brain of much needed blood and oxygen. The cells and tissues in the brain begin to die, causing what can be irreversible damage resulting in disabilities like paralysis on one side of the body, loss of speech, and many other deficits,” added Jones. “Getting to an acute stroke ready hospital via ambulance allows the EMS to pre-notify the hospital of an incoming stroke patient, resulting in the fastest treatment possible upon arrival. It is not recommended that a patient having a stroke arrive by car or private vehicle.”
Each Acute Stroke Ready Hospital has a telehealth connection with a neurologist at one or more larger Primary Stroke Hospitals within the state. Rural areas do not staff a neurologist due to a shortage of this specialty, but the telehealth connection allows the specialist to evaluate the patient and make treatment recommendations. To receive designation, hospitals must measure their outcomes and times to treatment and are subject to random inspections by the state.
For updates on new emergent stroke ready hospital designations, visit the IDPH website at http://www.idph.state.il.us/ems/StrokeCenterListing.pdf.