Iredell News

Section: Iredell News


Iredell Memorial Increasing Stroke Survival Rate in Iredell County

Iredell County has some of the highest death rates from stroke in the nation, and as the fourth leading cause of death in North Carolina, poses a serious health threat to the local population.
The vast majority of stroke deaths are preventable, though, and a quick response can minimize damage, prevent disability and save lives.

When stroke happens, having a certified stroke center nearby is crucial. Iredell Memorial Hospital (IMH) in Statesville – part of Iredell Health System – is an award-winning Primary Stroke Care Center and the only hospital in Iredell County to consecutively earn the status of being a Get with the Guidelines – Stroke Gold Plus center, a designation given to facilities that meet aggressive standards for treatment, as set by the American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association.

“North Carolina is in the stroke belt of the country and Iredell County is actually in what is called the ‘stroke belt buckle,’” said Celeste Stevens, a cardiovascular clinician for Iredell Health System and the certification coordinator for the hospital’s stroke center. Being in the “stroke belt buckle” means Iredell County residents are at an even greater risk than people in other areas of the country for stroke.

Through a focus on education, prevention, and treatment, IMH is having a significant impact on stroke deaths in local communities. In fact, according to a recent Iredell County health assessment, stroke deaths have decreased by 7.4% since IMH became a certified stroke center in 2008.
In order to achieve the Primary Stroke Center certification, IMH must pass a rigorous evaluation led by The Joint Commission, an agency that accredits and certifies nearly 21,000 healthcare organizations and programs in the United States. Stevens is currently preparing the Iredell stroke team for its fifth certification.

“They look at things very carefully to make sure we’re following our clinical practice guidelines and that we are giving the best stroke care possible,” she said. That means providing a speedy diagnosis and treatment to prevent serious brain damage or death. At IMH, the response begins as soon as someone calls 911.
IMH also has an active community outreach program, with a special focus on the African-American community – a demographic with a stroke rate almost twice as high as the rate for Caucasians.

“If we can get the word out to the community on what signs and symptoms are - what their risk factors are for stroke - then we can help them decrease those risk factors and prevent strokes from happening,” said Stevens.

What are those symptoms? Numbness or weakness of the face, trouble seeing or speaking and a severe headache are all warning signs that someone may be having a stroke when the symptoms begin suddenly and the effects are often devastating. Anyone who suspects a stroke should call 911 immediately.

For more information, please contact LaToya Boyce at 704.878.7738.

PHOTO: Bethany Hartness-Smith, RN, MSN and Celeste Stevens, RN, BSN, accept an award on behalf of Iredell Memorial Hospital for earning the Get with the Guidelines – Stroke Gold Plus certification from the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association.

Categories: Awards,General News