Abbott Northwestern – WestHealth designated as an Acute Stroke Ready site

Allina Health now has two Comprehensive Stroke Centers, a Primary Stroke Center, a Primary Plus Stroke Center and nine Acute Stroke Ready sites.

MINNEAPOLIS (May 21, 2024) — Allina Health is pleased to announce that Abbott Northwestern – WestHealth is one of 97 hospital locations recognized in Minnesota as Acute Stroke Ready for their preparedness to evaluate, stabilize and provide emergency treatment to patients with acute stroke symptoms. Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death and one of the leading causes of disability in Minnesota, and outcomes improve for patients when they can get to the hospital for treatment as soon as possible. 

In 2013, the Minnesota Legislature authorized the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) to designate hospitals in Minnesota as “stroke hospitals.” Facilities may be designated as Acute Stroke Ready Hospitals, Primary Stroke Centers, and Comprehensive Stroke Centers. These hospitals are prepared to provide quick and appropriate treatment to stroke patients, increasing the likelihood of better patient outcomes.

“The Acute Stroke Ready designation is a testament to Abbott Northwestern-West Health's dedication to meeting rigorous standards set forth by the Minnesota Department of Health. This recognition underscores the hospital's capacity to deliver timely and effective care to stroke patients, ensuring better outcomes and improved quality of life,” said Ganesh Asaithambi, MD, medical director, Allina Health’s Stroke Program. “This designation reflects our commitment to excellence in stroke care and our ongoing efforts to enhance the health and well-being of our community.”

Minnesota has seen significant increase in access to stroke care, and 94% of Minnesotans now live within 30 minutes of a designated stroke system hospital. MDH has designated 120 stroke hospitals as part of the Minnesota Stroke System including 97 Acute Stroke Ready Hospitals throughout Minnesota.

"Stroke is an emergency and timely treatment decreases the chance of disability or death from stroke,” said MDH Stroke Program Supervisor Nicky Anderson. "Every second counts. That is why it is so crucial that all Minnesota hospitals are ready to recognize and deliver timely stroke care close to home." 

“Staff in the Abbott Northwestern Hospital - WestHealth Emergency Department are trained to care for any patient with an emergent condition. With stroke patients, time is of the essence, and we are able to get the patient the care they need within minutes of an arrival. Our triage staff is trained to quickly assess signs and symptoms of stroke and activate our Stroke Code Process. This process will get the provider at the bedside, prepare the patient for Imaging and the care is started immediately,” said Merijo Schornstein, RN, BSN, patient care manager at WestHealth emergency department. “Stroke Ready means the staff that works at WestHealth is equipped to perform rapid clinical stroke assessment, implement orders and protocols for the best possible outcome for the patient. We understand every second counts and are committed to continuously improving our processes and protocols.”

It is important for everyone to know how to spot a stroke quickly and call 9-1-1 at the first sign of a stroke. Local Emergency Medical Service (EMS) providers are trained to recognize stroke symptoms and will ensure patients are taken to the closest designated stroke center quickly. You can recognize the signs and symptoms of a stroke by remembering B.E.F.A.S.T. 

B - Balance loss - Is coordination or balance suddenly difficult?

E - Eyesight change - Is there a sudden change in vision?

F - Facial drooping - Does one side of the face droop or is it numb?

A - Arm weakness - Is one arm weak or numb?

S - Slurred speech - Is speech slurred, are they unable to speak, or are they hard to understand?

T - Time to call 9-1-1 - If the person shows any of these symptoms call 9-1-1 and get to a hospital immediately.

Allina Health Comprehensive Stroke Centers:
Abbott Northwestern Hospital

United Hospital

Allina Health Primary Plus Stroke Center:
Mercy Hospital

Allina Health Primary Stroke Center:
Mercy Hospital – Unity Campus

Allina Health Acute Stroke Ready Sites:
Abbott Northwestern Hospital – WestHealth

Buffalo Hospital

Cambridge Medical Center

Faribault Medical Center

New Ulm Medical Center

Owatonna Hospital

River Falls Area Hospital

St. Francis Regional Medical Center

United Hospital – Hastings Regina Campus

About Allina Health

Allina Health is dedicated to the prevention and treatment of illness and enhancing the greater health of individuals, families and communities throughout Minnesota and western Wisconsin. A nonprofit health care system, Allina Health cares for patients from beginning to end-of-life through its 90+ clinics, 12 hospital campuses, 14 retail pharmacies, and many specialty care centers and specialty medical services, home care, and emergency medical transportation services. Learn more at and join us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.