Focus on Your Health: What to do when you suspect a stroke: Don’t drive yourself or “wait it out” – call 911 immediately, care begins in the ambulance

Early stroke detection and treatment are key to improving survival, minimizing disability and accelerating recovery times.

Early stroke detection and treatment are key to improving survival, minimizing disability and accelerating recovery times. COURTESY BAYSTATE HEALTH WEBSITE

By ANITA FRITZ

For the Recorder

Published: 09-22-2023 11:02 AM

Baystate Franklin Medical Center recently received the American Heart Association’s Get With The Guidelines – Stroke Gold Plus Quality Achievement Award for its commitment to ensuring our stroke patients receive the most appropriate treatment according to nationally recognized, research-based guidelines leading to more lives saved and reduced disability. Stroke is the #5 cause of death and a leading cause of disability in the United States.

A stroke occurs when a blood vessel that carries oxygen and nutrients to the brain is either blocked by a clot or bursts. When that happens, part of the brain cannot get the oxygen it needs, so brain cells die.

Early stroke detection and treatment are key to improving survival, minimizing disability and accelerating recovery times. The hospital consistently adheres to these guidelines, which can minimize the long-term effects of a stroke and even prevent death.

Assistant Nurse Manager/Stroke Coordinator in the Baystate Franklin Emergency Department Tim Wegman, RN, says when someone is suspected of having a stroke, time is of the utmost importance. He advises that people don’t try to drive themselves to the hospital or “wait it out,” but instead call 911, because treatment will start in the ambulance.

“Stroke kills brain cells,” Wegman explains. “If time is lost, brain is lost. We have to start treatment as quickly as possible. Treatment depends on what kind of stroke it is and where it is in the brain. If it is a clot, it has to be dissolved or extracted. If it is hemorrhagic, we have to stop the bleeding.”

Wegman explains that there is a protocol that is followed in the ED, which includes paging a stroke alert while the patient is en route, and then immediately getting a CT of the patient’s head when they arrive. Nurses, phlebotomists, radiology technicians, doctors, an entire team are waiting for the patient by the door.

Baystate Franklin Medical Center was not the only Baystate Health hospital to receive the award. Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, Baystate Wing Hospital in Palmer and Baystate Noble Hospital in Westfield did as well.

“We are incredibly pleased to recognize Baystate Health’s four hospitals for their commitment to caring for patients with stroke,” said Steven Messe, M.D., chairperson of the Stroke System of Care Advisory Group. “Participation in Get With The Guidelines is associated with improved patient outcomes, fewer readmissions and lower mortality rates — a win for health care systems, families and communities.”

For more information on stroke, visit: baystatehealth.org/stroke

Baystate Health celebrates Environmental Services Week

Last week we celebrated Environmental Services (EVS) Week at Baystate Franklin Medical Center and across Baystate Health to recognize the important work this team does every day. If you’ve been a patient at the hospital, at 48 Sanderson St., in the Emergency Department, or as a visitor, you’ve seen the work they do.

The EVS team plays a critical role in keeping patients and others healthy and safe by keeping our buildings and patient care areas clean and disinfected. Each is a friendly member of the patient care team as they interact with patients and visitors when they are in their rooms. The pandemic especially highlighted the vital role the EVS team plays in helping prevent the spread of viruses and protecting everyone.

These valuable members of our team continually ensure our Baystate Health facilities are clean, safe places for patients, their families and our team members and we celebrate them.

See you next month and stay well!

Anita Fritz is a lifelong resident of Franklin County. She was a reporter for the Greenfield Recorder for 20 years. She is currently the senior specialist for public affairs and community relations for Baystate Franklin Medical Center.