On February 25th over 60 stroke survivors, caretakers and advocates came together to share their personal story about stroke and ask the legislators to support creating a tiered stroke system of care.
We know that stroke is the No. 4 cause of death among adults in the U.S. It kills 128,000 people a year – that’s about one in every 19 deaths and that every 40 seconds, someone in America has a stroke. On average, every four minutes, someone dies from stroke. We know that calling 9-1-1 gets stroke patients to the hospital fast during a stroke emergency. Yet, according to research, more than a third of stroke patients don’t go to the hospital by ambulance and when someone recognizes a stroke and acts fast by calling 9-1-1, the patient has a greater chance of getting to an appropriate hospital quickly and improving the outcome. This is why it is so important to create a stroke system of care.
The rapid identification, diagnosis, and treatment of stroke can save the lives of stroke patients and in some cases can reverse neurological damage such as paralysis and speech and language impairments, leaving stroke patients with few or no neurological deficits. Although treatments are available to improve the clinical outcomes of stroke, many acute care hospitals lack the necessary staff and equipment to optimally triage and treat stroke patients, including the provision of optimal, safe and effective emergency care for these patients. An effective system to support stroke survival is needed in our communities in order to treat stroke patients in a timely manner and to improve the overall treatment of stroke patients in order to increase survival and decrease the disabilities associated with stroke. There is a public health need for acute care hospitals in Massachusetts and to establish a designation for Primary Stroke Centers to ensure the rapid triage, diagnostic evaluation and treatment of patients suffering a stroke. It is in the best interest of the residents of Massachusetts to establish a program to facilitate development of stroke treatment capabilities throughout the State. This program will provide specific patient care and support services criteria that stroke centers must meet in order to ensure that stroke patients receive safe and effective care.
To prevent the incidence and death of stroke, it is important to address the whole system from prevention to rehabilitation. Massachusetts can officially recognize the best medical centers to treat stroke to ensure that the best care is delivered promptly. The AHA has already identified the criteria for care that facilities should meet to provide patients the best care possible. Massachusetts has been a leader in the field of stroke with the help of the STOP Stroke Program, but 10 years after we established the primary stroke service hospital designation, we need to do more. We need to make sure that patients are getting to the hospital quickly after having a stroke and we need to make sure that the hospitals are in fact delivering high levels of quality of care.
Join with us and ask your legislators to support a stroke system of care, because together we can end stroke!