UPMC McKeesport certified a primary stroke center
It was a typical day for Sally Martin. She had just cut some flowers from her garden when they suddenly fell out of her hand. She wasn't sure where she was.
She was dizzy and having difficulty walking. She managed to call 911, but had a hard time seeing the numbers. When she tried to talk, her speech was slurred. She was having a stroke.
Because time is vital in treating a stroke patient, emergency medical personnel took her to UPMC McKeesport, the nearest primary stroke center.
Until May 31, though, the nearest such facility was in Pittsburgh.
“We went through the Joint Commission stroke survey on May 1 and we were awarded advanced certification as a primary stroke center on May 31,” said Chris Rozanski, stroke coordinator at UPMC McKeesport, where about 15-20 stroke patients are treated each week.
Stroke medicine director Edward Mistler said, when EMS respond to a stroke call, “they want to go to a primary stroke center and the ambulance takes them there. But time equals brain and patients in this area were losing valuable time because they were going to other hospitals.”
To receive the two-year certification, UPMC McKeesport met national standards that include having a comprehensive stroke-focused program with stroke care-trained staff, patient involvement in their hospital care plans, coordination of patient self-care after leaving the hospital, and stroke care based on recommendations of the Brain Attack Coalition and guidelines published by the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association.
Other criteria include a streamlined flow of patient information, overall hospital performance data and use of data to assess and improve the quality of care for stroke patients.
Deborah Vehec, director on the step-down unit, said the staff on designated stroke units — the critical care unit, the step-down unit and the emergency department — have been specially trained.
“A lot of our staff has been educated to quickly recognize the signs and symptoms of a possible stroke,” she said.
The AHA/ASA reports that stroke is one of the leading causes of death and serious long-term disability in the United States. A stroke occurs when one of the arteries to the brain is blocked or bursts. That results in lack of blood flow and the brain starts to die.
Care as soon as possible after symptoms appear is crucial, Mistler said.
“In the first 3 1⁄2 hours, there is a lot we can do,” Mistler emphasized. “After four hours there are still a lot of things we can do and six hours after the onset of symptoms there are some we can do. After that, there is not much we can do for acute stroke, but there is a lot we can do to prevent the next one.”
Cheryl Abbot, director of quality at the hospital, said UPMC McKeesport has been providing “excellent state-of-the-art stroke care for a long time and we are still providing the same level of care. The difference is we are now recognized as a primary stroke center.”
When a stroke patient arrives at the hospital, physicians have 24-hour access to specialists at the UPMC Stroke Institute in Pittsburgh, who offer a higher level of treatment and care to patients without the necessity of them being transported to Pittsburgh. A multidisciplinary team of specialists in emergency medicine, vascular neurology, physical medicine and rehabilitation work together to diagnose and determine the most appropriate care.
There are four areas where symptoms show and require the patient to act FAST:
Face — an uneven smile or facial droop
Arm — arm numbness or weakness
Speech — slurred speech, difficulty speaking or understanding
Time — call 911 immediately
“You need to see your doctor and you need to quit smoking,” Mistler stressed. “Smoking can be 100 percent modified. You also need to have your blood pressure and cholesterol checked, and keep your diabetes in control.”
Carol Waterloo Frazier is an editor for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1916, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- White Oak school starts foreign language academy program
- West Mifflin loses KaBOOM! playground bid
- Munhall council president says layoffs possible
- Surprise jump in students forces hiring at Elizabeth Forward schools
- West Mifflin may demolish fire-damaged home
- Judge gives Elizabeth Township Authority 3 weeks to decide lawyer fees
- South Allegheny directors approve purchase of 120 Chromebooks
- Lincoln adopts vicious dog ordinance
- Elizabeth Forward district’s school support staff OKs 3-year contract
- West Mifflin plans to make use of state rent-collection law
- Pleasant Hills OKs proposal for Weiss Meats warehouse