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BE FAST isn’t just a saying for Watauga Medical Center’s nationally recognized stroke program

BE FAST isn’t just a saying for Watauga Medical Center’s nationally recognized stroke program

The Stroke Center of Watauga Medical Center was recently recognized by the American Heart Association’s Get with the Guidelines® program and awarded the Silver Plus and Target: Stroke Elite Honor Roll quality designations for 2019.

A stroke or “brain attack” occurs when a blood clot blocks an artery or a blood vessel breaks, interrupting blood flow to an area of the brain. Brain cells begin to die and brain damage occurs. Abilities controlled by that area of the brain are lost, i.e. speech, movement and memory. How a stroke patient is affected depends on where the stroke occurs in the brain and how much the brain is damaged.

Time is of the essence in treating stroke patients, and the most important factor in successful treatment is early intervention. Watauga Medical Center Emergency Department staff are trained to recognize the signs of stroke and spring to action immediately to implement stroke treatment protocols.

The acronym BE FAST can help people recognize the signs of stroke and quickly get the help needed.

Balance: Sudden loss of balance and coordination
Eyes: Sudden trouble seeing, or blurred vision in one or both eyes
Face: One side of the face droops or is numb
Arm: Sudden weakness or numbness of any arm or leg
Speech: Sudden Confusion, trouble speaking or understanding speech
Time: Call 911 immediately, and note the time symptoms started

Through the Telestroke program, patients have 24/7 access to acute stroke experts via two-way real time video consultation. Thanks to this network, emergency room physicians are able to receive on demand consultation to help diagnose strokes, develop care plans, and take action if necessary.

Target: Stroke Elite Honor Roll quality designation from the American Heart Association certifies that stroke patients receive Intravenous Thrombolytic Therapy within 60 minutes of arriving at the hospital – 30% quicker than the national average.

In order to receive the Silver Plus quality award, Watauga Medical Center met or exceeded 15 criteria set forth by the American Health Association covering early and thorough treatment, patient education, follow-up treatment and more.

The Stroke Center at Watauga Medical Center is also certified by The Joint Commission for Primary Stroke Centers as an Advanced Primary Stroke Center following a detailed, on-site re-certification review of the hospital in March 2019. The certification is based on the recommendations for primary stroke centers published by the Brain Attack Coalition and the American Stroke Association’s statements/guidelines for stroke care.

For more information about stroke services at Appalachian Regional Healthcare system, visit apprhs.org/stroke.

Emergency Entrance

Telestroke Technology Available at ARHS

Telestroke Technology Available at ARHS

Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center has partnered with Appalachian Regional Healthcare System (ARHS) to provide Telestroke services at Watauga Medical Center and Cannon Memorial Hospital.

The Wake Forest Baptist Telestroke Network serves in approximately 24 counties in western North Carolina and southern Virginia. Its goal is to assist community hospitals in their efforts to prevent death and reduce disability caused by strokes. By collaborating with the Telestroke Network, ARHS now has access to 24/7 acute stroke experts via two-way real time video consultation. Thanks to this network, emergency room physicians are able to receive on demand consultation to help diagnose strokes, develop care plans and take action if necessary.

What the patient can expect

telestroke-articleThe majority of stroke patients enter the hospital through the emergency department where they are treated by a team of skilled nurses and physicians. Thanks to Telestroke technology, a robot known as RP-Lite® has joined the care team. The technologically advanced robot allows stroke expert physicians, located in the Wake Forest Baptist Stroke Center, to have remote access via two-way live video and audio capability with patients and the medical team at Watauga Medical Center and Cannon Memorial Hospital. In addition, the stroke experts at Wake Forest Baptist have access to the patient’s medical records and diagnostic test results.

“The RP-Lite allows the Wake Forest Baptist stroke physicians to interact directly with patients, family members and hospital staff just as if they are standing at the bedside,” said Debbie Shook, Stroke Coordinator at ARHS. “Think of stroke as a brain attack – it is an emergency and every minute counts. Traditionally, the hospital would have to call in a neurologist to evaluate the patient which took time. Now, thanks to Telestroke, stroke patients can receive treatment much faster.”

Warning signs and symptoms of stroke include:

  • Sudden weakness or numbness of the face, arm or leg, usually on one side of the body.
  • Difficulty speaking or understanding language.
  • Decreased or blurred vision in one or both eyes.
  • Sudden, severe headaches.
  • Unexplained loss of balance or dizziness.

If you or someone around you notice one or more of these warning signs, seek immediate medical attention – Call 911.

Watauga Medical Center has earned and maintained The Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval for certification as a Primary Stroke Center since 2011.

To learn more about The Stroke Center or Appalachian Regional Healthcare System visit www.apphrs.org.