PITTSBURG — In the medical field they say “time is muscle” when there is a cardiac issue, but when it comes to strokes “time is brain.”

Via Christi Ascension Pittsburg has recently been honored for their commitment to “quality stroke care” by the American Heart Association. The hospital has received the American Heart Association / American Stroke Association’s Get with the Guidelines — Stroke Silver Plus Quality Achievement Award.

The hospital received the recognition because it met “the quality measures developed to reduce the time between the patient’s arrival at the hospital and treatment with the clot-buster tissue plasminogen activator, or tPA, the only drug approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat ischemic stroke,” a release said.

Via Christi is considered to be a “Emergent Stroke Ready Hospital” meaning they have the capabilities to give medication and transport patients in need of more care.

This was made possible through the creation of a multi-disciplinary team, which is alerted when a possible stroke patient arrives at the hospital. This team uses their individual disciplines to determine if the patient is having a stroke, why and then following with the appropriate treatment. They also have a committee which overlooks current procedures and policies regarding strokes.

“Part of it is having a team of people and getting all eyes on the patient ... the lab, ER manager, supervisors and physicians,” Emergency Services Director Naomi Powers said. “Time is brain.

“We each know our part to do, in a way to meet the time constraints and treat all stroke patients the same.”  

Emergency Services Manager Jessica Cobb agreed.

“We are always looking for ways to do better,” she said. “The interdisciplinary teams and having everyone involved has really helped.”

As soon as a potential stroke patient arrives the team’s pagers are set to go off which is also a direct line to a neurologist.

Powers said it is imperative that stroke patients receive care as soon as possible — starting at arrival. She and Cobb said they encourage people who feel symptoms of a stroke to immediately call 911 and utilize the Crawford County Emergency Services.

The reason for this, they said, is the team extends to emergency personnel. As part of the stroke team, EMS will activite the rest of the team if the patient has symptoms of a stroke and by the time the patient reaches the hospital they could receive care much quicker than if they had not utilized the EMS services.

All of this, Cobb and Powers said, is thanks to their stroke advocate Physician Champion Dr. Timothy Stebbings, Dr. Joshua Brueggeman and other team members and advocates who follow up on research on ways prevent damage. The damage, Cobb said, is one of the leading cause of disability and so having this team sets them on the track of preventing this damage.

Cobb and Powers said they are glad to help provide this service to the hospital’s stroke patients.

Stroke facts

According to the National Stroke Association some signs of a stroke include:

Sudden numbness or weakness in the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body, Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
Sudden trouble walking, dizziness or loss of balance
Sudden severe headache with no known cause

According to the NSA, people can use the acronym FAST which stands for Face, Arms, Speech and Time to recognize warning signs of a stroke.

Face: Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?

Arms: Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?

Speech: Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Is their speech slurred or strange?

Time: If you observe any of these signs, call 9-1-1 immediately.

Emergency Services Manager Jessica Cobb and Emergency Services Director Naomi Powers said according to recent findings, age is not as much as a factor, there are more cases of people younger than before.