Mississippi implemented stroke health system

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Mississippi is the first state in the nation to have a third statewide system of care in place, according to the Mississippi State Department of Health.

The stroke system of care joins Mississippi’s other health care systems, which include the ST-elevation myocardial infarction care plan and trauma care system.

These systems establish a common protocol for statewide medical personnel to identify medical conditions and treat it quickly and efficiently, a MSDH press release said.

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Six months ago, Highland Community Hospital became a stroke ready facility, Director of Emergency Services Robin Montalbano said.

Being stroke ready means Highland administers a drug to stroke patients called the tissue plasminogen activator, which breaks up clots. A neurologist is on call and the local facility has CAT scan availability, Montalbano said.

“Whether it’s a walk-in or an ambulance call, we use the code stroke alert before the stroke patient walks in, which alerts medical personnel to be at the emergency room either before or right when the victims walk in,” she said.

She also said the first three hours of someone undergoing a stroke is critical.

“That time is critical because if we can treat that person during those three hours, the chance of recovery is better for them,” she said.

Highland Community Hospital is a level 3 “drip and ship” hospital.

“What that means is we have a 60 minute door to needle timeframe. So when the patient first walks in the door to the time we deliver the clot-busting medicine, we have 60 minutes to do that,” Montalbano said.

The hospital works with Forrest General Hospital in Hattiesburg, which houses the primary stroke center in the area.

“Since we have been stroke ready, we’ve had patients that have done very well, who’ve had great outcomes because of this,” Montalbano said.

The stroke system is a joint effort between the MSDH, the Mississippi Healthcare Alliance, the Mississippi Hospital Association and the American Heart Association, according to the Mississippi State Department of Health.