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Stroke: What You Need to Know

Sudden facial drooping. Weakness on one side of the body. Slurred speech. It’s a stroke, a brain attack, and time is of the essence. But for now, let’s use our brains to store a few things.

1. Stroke is not just for old people.

You actually need to get the “it’s for old people” notion out of your head. More and more we are seeing stroke happen in younger individuals. Nationally, 34% of strokes occur in people under age 65. At Herrin Hospital alone, 50% of our patients last year were under the age of 65.

2. No matter what age, learn the symptoms.

Typically, it’s the bystander who notices someone is having a stroke. This is your chance to save a life! So teach your kids even, how to spot one. Need an acronym to help you remember? Try FAST.

  • Facial drooping
  • Arm or Leg weakness
  • Slurred speech
  • Time-note the time of the first symptom and call 911

Or, share this video with friends to help everyone learn about stroke.

3. We’re serious. Make the call to 911. Do not drive.

Even if the symptoms go away shortly. Any one of these symptoms should prompt a call to 911. With stroke, there is a very brief window when we can halt brain damage caused by stroke. The call to 911 activates more than the ambulance crew. It’s activating hospital staff and doctors of the SIH Brain & Spine Institute’s Stroke Network.

4. Being experts at stroke isn’t automatic at every hospital.

Recently Herrin Hospital joined the ranks of its sister hospital in Carbondale as a Primary Stroke Center–a fancy way of saying that we follow the same protocols of nationally-recognized stroke programs and we have the numbers and outcomes to prove it—so says the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association and the Joint Commission.

In 2012 SIH realized a significant deficiency in stroke care for our region and set out to make a change that would really impact some lives. Stroke in southern Illinois used to mean a stop at a local hospital with a quick flight to St. Louis. Not anymore. With some key neurologists, stroke care coordination and nurses with some intense training, we can better stop stroke and prevent the serious after-effects.

5. We’re spreading the love.

To really help all southern Illinoisans, we have to spread it beyond the walls of SIH’s Primary Stroke Centers. The system in place lends itself to have “stroke outposts.” Our own St. Joseph Memorial Hospital in Murphysboro and now Harrisburg Medical Center have joined the Stroke Network. With training from SIH’s stroke coordinator, they stand ready for stroke patients in and around their community. For most strokes, they can deliver treatment right in their own emergency rooms

St. Joseph Improves the Colonoscopy Experience

St Joseph Memorial Hospital staff just made the world of endoscopy, such as colonoscopy, a little more comfortable. A recent expansion/remodeling project was completed this March just as the United States recognized colon cancer awareness month.

Endoscopy is the process of using specialized scopes with cameras to enter the mouth or the rectum to evaluate the digestive tract. If they find polyps (growths that can turn into cancer), they are usually removed on the spot.

The unit at St. Joseph is already recognized for their excellence in quality by the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy. The expansion to four endoscopy suites is an answer to the nationwide efforts spreading awareness of colon cancer prevention. It also provides more access to care as physicians are tasked to control population health.

Colorectal cancer continues to be the third most diagnosed cancer in Illinois. As a nation, we are starting to make a difference. Southern Illinois Healthcare facilities have seen an 18 percent increase in studies over the last year.

Generally not a test that people look forward to, but most people are surprised that it’s usually not as bad as they imagined. “It’s awesome to be able to identify a treatable condition before it turns deadly. It also gives folks peace of mind when they have a negative screening,” said Fred Hall, St. Joseph Memorial Hospital Surgical Director.

For the test you are given light anesthesia. Most have no recollection the study happened at all. People typically feel they have awakened from a nice nap without a “hungover” feeling.

While often cringing at the idea of the study, most people overlook the amazing benefits. Colorectal cancer is one of the most treatable cancers if you find it early. And if you’re not high risk, unlike other screenings, it’s only an every-10-year screening.

“I have often heard people tell me that they are embarrassed or shy to have a colonoscopy or to discuss it with their doctor,” said Dr. Satyadeep Bhattacharya, colorectal surgeon with SIH Medical Group. “However, I believe that the benefits of screening are so great that we should talk about it as a society and make it common knowledge – so that the average person does not feel awkward any more. Together, we can make a difference.”

Introducing Radio SIH

Why does my child keep getting sick? Why is high blood pressure the silent killer? These are just some of the topics covered in Southern Illinois Healthcare’s new online podcast channel: Radio SIH.

Radio SIH features different experts, all practicing at SIH facilities, giving useful advice about today’s health topics.

You can either listen online at or go to iTunes and search Radio SIH to download our podcasts to your smartphone.

Either way, it’s a great way to learn about your health from physicians you are familiar with. Topics focus in on things that are local, happening right now in southern Illinois.

For instance, the Center for Disease Control has identified southern Illinois as a place where atrial fibrillation is prevalent. Dr. Daniel Correa de Sa, Prairie electrophysiologist explains why managing atrial fibrillation is so important. He discusses the nature of the disease along with typical symptoms. You can hear first-hand what treatment solutions are available right here.

While SIH frequently has physician speakers at various events and on local media channels, Radio SIH allows you the flexibility to listen to these medical discussions on your own time.

Be sure to tune in.

How to get an X-ray without going to the Hospital

Have you ever needed X-rays, but wished you could go to some place convenient and close to home—a place besides the hospital?

Here’s a little-known secret about SIH Imaging Services: While Memorial Hospital of Carbondale, Herrin Hospital and St. Joseph Memorial Hospital offer a more comprehensive set of Imaging Services, several routine services like X-rays and ultrasound do not require going to the hospital.

Many don’t know that SIH conveniently offers imaging services in Carbondale, Herrin, West Frankfort and Benton. Our services can be found at the Center for Medical Arts, Herrin Logan Primary Care, West Frankfort Logan Primary Care, West Frankfort Miners Memorial Clinic and Benton Franklin Medical Arts.

Locations Chart

X-ray studies are a “walk-in” service, where as CT scans, ultrasound and bone density must be scheduled in advance.

“We want to provide our southern Illinois community with accessible, convenient diagnostic imaging to make everyone’s life a little easier,” said Jon Lough, Director of Imaging Services.

Talk with your doctor to find a convenient location that offers the Imaging services that you need.

For more information, visit or call 866-744-2468.