Meridian Star

January 11, 2013

Anderson Regional Medical Center raises the bar on stroke care in area

By Ida Brown /
The Meridian Star

MERIDIAN —     Time is of the essence in treating strokes.

    It is estimated that 2 million nerve cells die every minute after a stroke begins – which is why it is crucial that patients receive care as soon as possible to promote the best recovery.

    Anderson Regional Medical Center has implemented a Stroke Care Excellence Program, which includes a team of highly skilled, clinical professionals dedicated to the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of all types of strokes. In addition, Anderson has partnered with local ambulance services to begin treatment immediately, followed by the emergency medical team and neurologists taking over with skilled, timely care. Afterwards, patients receive rehabilitation at the Tom C. Maynor Rehabilitation Center at Anderson-South.

    “Strokes are a big issue in our area, and we are proud that Anderson Regional Medical Center now encompasses every component for complete stroke care,” said Ray Humphreys, president and CEO.

     “Just like a heart attack, stroke is a medical emergency. At the first sign of sudden weakness or numbness on one side of your body, difficulty with speech or sudden visual changes, call 911 immediately for transport to our ER,” said Dr. Kim McDonald, chief of Emergency Medicine at Anderson Regional Medical Center.

    Medical officials often refer to the hour immediately following the onset of stroke symptoms as the "golden hour" because stroke patients who receive treatment within that time span have a much greater chance of surviving and avoiding long-term brain damage.

    "The protocol for strokes has changed in the past couple of years," said Elizabeth Wiggins, marketing director for Anderson. "There are new treatment methods and there's also medication that can break up the clots – if given within the first hour of symptoms,"

    And that's where the partnership with Metro Ambulance really comes in.

    "The training with Metro was huge. So now when they are on a call and have determined that the patient is having a stroke, they can start treatment immediately, then call and let us know so that we can get our stroke care team in place for when the patient arrives at our emergency room," Wiggins said.

    "It eliminates the middle man, so to speak, in that crucial time of treating a stroke," Metro Ambulance Director Clayton Cobler said. "Instead of transporting the patient to the hospital and starting all the questioning, we'll start the questioning in the field and eliminate a bunch of time. Usually by the time one has a stroke and they realize it and call for an ambulance, an hour-and-a half or two hours has been burned. We're trying to cut that time down."