When it comes to stroke, time is brain. Treatment within the first three hours—the golden window for stroke—is critical to saving the millions of neurons vital for human function. Herrin Hospital is currently one of only two hospitals in Illinois to make the coveted Target Stroke Honor Roll from the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association. One of the highest honors in stroke care, it means Herrin’s Emergency Department is among the fastest in the nation for life-saving care.
Herrin Hospital’s measures include aggressive use of the clot-busting drug tissue plasminogen activator, commonly known as tPA, and a fast track protocol similar to the hospital’s successful STAT Heart program to diagnose and treat stroke within a 60-minute window. The interdisciplinary stroke team at Herrin Hospital involves physicians, nurses and staff from emergency, lab and radiology who work together in a seamless process. Target Stroke Honor Roll recognizes hospitals that treat at least half of eligible patients with tPA within an hour of their arrival to the emergency department. Herrin Hospital is achieving this goal at a rate of nearly 90%. The role of emergency medical services (EMS) is also critical to Herrin Hospital’s success in nationally recognized stroke care.
“For us, minutes are not enough. We’re down to the second, really, at every point of the process, trying to fine-tune what we can do to improve our care,” said Josh Miksanek, MD, medical director of the Emergency Department at Herrin Hospital.
Stroke is the third-leading cause of death in the United States and a leading cause of long-term disability. Nationally, nearly 800,000 people suffer a new or recurrent stroke each year.
“At the onset of stroke symptoms, we encourage people to call 9-1-1. It’s heartbreaking when patients think it’s nothing and go back to sleep or arrive in our emergency rooms two days later unable to use an arm. The first three hours are critical to get the treatment to stop the debilitating stroke in its tracks,” said Leslie Cranick, Southern Illinois Healthcare’s stroke program coordinator.