Great news on stroke care for North Dakota! The North Dakota legislature passed our stroke bill unanimously in both houses and last week it was signed by Governor Dalrymple. What does this mean for North Dakota and stroke?
The North Dakota Stroke System of Care includes all the stakeholders involved with stroke awareness, education, response, treatment and rehabilitative care. It includes hospitals of all sizes, EMS community, 911 dispatch, neurologists and other specialty physicians, critical access hospital directors of nursing, hospital stroke coordinators, the North Dakota Department of Health, UND Center for Rural Health, American Heart Association and North Dakota elected officials. All partners play a key role in our Stroke System of Care.
What does that mean for those who experience stroke? First of all, we want to prevent stroke whenever possible. Attention to sodium intake, diet, exercise is key. Second, we want early intervention and recognition of stroke symptoms so that patients get to definitive care as soon as possible. Education, recognition, intervention and treatment are all a part of the North Dakota System of care.
The stroke system of care will develop regional transport plans based on hospital designation and capabilities. It will target the leading risk factor for stroke – high blood pressure – and provide education and awareness to help prevent stroke from happening in the first place. There will be continued education to improve upon care measures and track performance. The stroke system of care will aim toward more timely activation of 9-1-1 so that EMS can initiate care sooner for improved outcomes. It will work to address the growing trend of younger stroke victims and greater access to rehabilitative services.
While this bill was being discussed among legislators, it was noted that our legislature makes investments in infrastructure for roads, bridges, water and other key economic development needs. Therefore, investment in our health care systems of care is also an important investment for North Dakota. It was that kind of mindset, and consistent, effective communication by our volunteer advocates who helped to secure this legislative victory.
We couldn’t be prouder of North Dakota for taking this step forward to address stroke in our state. It provides an outstanding model for other states to follow.