Stroke Care Network announced

Five area hospitals announced on May 7 the formation of the Stroke Care Network to provide quality stroke care in rural areas.

Medical Center Barbour in Eufaula, Mizell Memorial Hospital in Opp, Dale Medical Center in Ozark and  Troy Regional Medical Center have joined with Southeast Alabama Medical Center (SAMC) in Dothan to form the Stroke Care Network.

The timing of the announcement coincides with Stroke Awareness Month. Every four minutes a person in the United States dies from a stroke. Stroke is the most debilitating disease and the third leading cause of death in Alabama.

Through the Stroke Care Network and thanks to funding from the SAMC Foundation, the Telemedicine based network allows for 24/7 stroke care. The Stroke Care Network will ensure patients in our surrounding communities will have access to the most experienced stroke care available.

Each community hospital has a TeleMedicine monitor and 24/7 access to a Neurologist through AccuteCare physicians. When a patient presents at a network community hospital with stroke symptoms, the Neurologist will conduct  a real-time video examination of the patient. This will allow the Neurologist to diagnose and prescribe life-saving drugs to the patient in a matter of minutes. A coordinated and faster response time, including transfer to a regional stroke center such as SAMC, can result in less permanent damage caused by the stroke.

Ronald S. Owen, chief executive officer at SAMC, said he commends the community hospitals for their commitment to ensure stroke patients are diagnosed and medicine is prescribed as soon as possible. He said when dealing with  a stroke, time loss equals brain loss.

The Stroke Care Network is also committed to educating the public on signs and symptoms of a stroke. Knowing what signs and symptoms to look for can mean a quicker response getting a family member or friend to the hospital. The Stroke Care Network suggests using the F.A.S.T. Prehospital Stroke Scale to determine if someone should be taken to the hospital:

• Facial Droop
     Normal: Both sides of face move equally
     Abnormal: One side of face does not move at all
• Arm Drift
     Normal: Both arms move equally or not at all
     Abnormal: One arm drifts compared to the other
• Speech
     Normal: Patient uses correct words with no slurring
     Abnormal: Slurred or inappropriate words or mute
• Time to call 911
     Presence of one of the above is associated with a high risk of stroke (72 percent), and if all three are present the risk is 85 percent.