RIVER FALLS, Wis.
Dr. Thomas Monahan in one of the River Falls Area Hospital Emergency Department patient bays with the telehealth system.
The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) has designated River Falls Area Hospital as an acute stroke ready hospital.
River Falls joins 30 Minnesota hospitals recognized for offering the gold standard in preparedness to stabilize stroke patients and administer life-saving medications.
"When it comes to stroke, time lost is brain lost," said MDH Commissioner of Health Dr. Ed Ehlinger. "That is why it is so crucial that all hospitals are ready to deliver high-quality stroke care close to home."
The notification from MDH specifically commended the River Falls Area Hospital's stroke protocols, the systems around the activation of the stroke team and the commitment to stroke education.
"The active treatment for stroke needs to be initiated as rapidly as possible," said Dr. Thomas Monahan, the medical director of River Falls Area Hospital's Emergency Department. He works with stroke neurologists at United Hospital in St. Paul via a telehealth system–high-quality videoconferencing technology–to evaluate and start treatment on any stroke patient who arrives in the River Falls Emergency Department.
"We have a window to get the medication going if it's going to benefit the patient," added Dr. Monahan. "As an acute stroke ready hospital, we can give the medication here and then transport the patient; it's like showing up to an Emergency Department that has a neurologist on site."
Almost 18 percent of all cardiovascular deaths in Wisconsin are due to stroke, according to the Wisconsin Plan for Heart Disease and Prevention 2010-2015.
While 25 Wisconsin hospitals found in larger cities have been designated as primary stroke centers, many Wisconsin residents live in more rural areas, away from these centers. MDH found that nearly one in three Minnesota stroke victims first receives care at a small, rural hospital, with more than one-third of Minnesotans living more than 60 minutes away from a primary stroke center. These facts highlight the importance of smaller hospitals in more rural communities, such as River Falls, becoming designated stroke-ready.
"This is the first time the hospital has been awarded this three-year accreditation, which is a fabulous achievement," said River Falls Area Hospital president David Miller. "Attaining this designation involved considerable effort on the part of our stroke team and the River Falls EMS."
Use the mnemonic F.A.S.T. to recognize signs of a stroke:
- F – Face drooping
- A – Arm weakness
- S – Speech difficulty
- T – Time to call 9-1-1