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Vidant Hospitals step up in caring for stroke patients

February 24, 2020 posted by Vidant Health News

Every 40 seconds, someone suffers a stroke. Every second that follows can make the difference between life or death — or the quality of life for someone who survives.

When it comes to treating a stroke, time is brain.

“As time goes on and you’re not getting oxygen to the brain, that’s brain damage," said Dr. Maureen Despres, lead hospitalist at Vidant Edgecombe Hospital in Tarboro. "The sooner you address it, the sooner you treat the issue, the better the outcome.”

Dr. Despres knows that all too well.

“All the risk factors for stroke are high here," Dr. Despres said, "diabetes, hypertension, obesity, smoking.”

It's the same for communities across eastern North Carolina. Which is why, by the end of 2020, all Vidant Community Hospitals will be certified as stroke centers.

“Patients can receive the same care at Bertie that they receive at Beaufort or at Chowan," JoAnna Keeter, stroke care coordinator at Vidant Community Hospitals, said. "And that’s the really cool thing about it, is just that no matter where you go in eastern North Carolina you can still receive that good, high-quality stroke care.”

Knowing what to look for is just as important. BE FAST is an easy way to remember ths sings of a stroke. Balance, Eyes, or having sudden trouble seeing, Face drooping, Arm weakness, Speech difficulty and Time to call 9-1-1.

“The quicker the patients can be treated, the better their functional outcomes are,” Keeter said.

Which is another reason Vidant Edgecombe is leading the charge among Vidant Community Hospitals for keeping higher acuity patients close to home.

“We’ve put this whole program into place where we can keep the patients here, the appropriate ones, and take care of them here,” Dr. Despres said.

Which matters greatly in a small community — to patients as well as those providing the care.

“I feel like I make a bigger difference here,” Dr. Despres said.

90 percent of eastern North Carolina counties have a stroke death rate higher than the national average. Vidant offers a number of resources, incluidng a community resource guide for stroke patients and families.

See more on WNCT

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