Joseph Meyer was relaxing in his favorite chair at home on the evening of February 13, 2010, when he first detected a weakness in his right side.
“It went away fairly quickly that night,” says Joseph, who retired to bed and didn’t think much more about the occurrence.
When Meyer experienced the same physical symptoms a few days later and they didn’t go away, he became alarmed. He made an appointment to see his doctor, Erick Guerra, MD, of Family Practice Physicians in Lee’s Summit, that same day. During the office visit, Dr. Guerra sent Joseph to the Emergency Department at Lee’s Summit Medical Center. Upon his arrival, the medical team quickly determined that the otherwise healthy 60-year-old had suffered from a stroke.
Joseph’s wife, Julie, says her husband was extremely lucky. “We didn't recognize the symptoms as those indicating a stroke,” says Julie. “Fortunately, the delay in getting him treatment doesn’t seem to have done any damage.”
Joseph prescribes to the time-honored adage of “hindsight is 20/20,” noting that he freely offers advice to friends and family about his experience, cautioning them to heed the early signs of a stroke. Although Joseph’s stroke was considered minor by his doctors, resulting treatment delays could have had long-term or permanent effects, such as slurred speech or loss of vision.
Lee’s Summit Medical Center, part of HCA Midwest Health System, has received the 2010 American Heart Association/American Stroke Association’s Get With The Guidelines® Stroke Gold Plus Performance Achievement Award. The award recognizes Lee’s Summit Medical Center’s commitment and success in implementing excellent care for stroke patients—such as Joseph Meyer—according to evidence-based guidelines.
Get With The Guidelines–Stroke advocates that doctors and hospitals provide “teachable moments” to patients soon after a stroke, when they are most likely to listen to and follow their healthcare professionals’ guidance. Studies demonstrate that patients who are taught how to manage their risk factors while still in the hospital reduce their risk of a second heart attack or stroke.
Lee’s Summit Medical Center achieved 85 percent or higher adherence to all the Get With The Guidelines-Stroke Performance Achievement Indicators for two or more consecutive 12-month intervals and 75 percent or higher compliance with six of 10 Get With The Guidelines-Stroke Quality Measures, which are reporting initiatives to measure quality of care. These measures include aggressive use of medications, such as tPA, antithrombotics, anticoagulation therapy, DVT prophylaxis, cholesterol reducing drugs and smoking cessation, all aimed at reducing death and disability and improving the lives of stroke patients.
“When someone is having a stroke, time lost is brain lost, and the Get With The Guidelines–Stroke Gold Plus Performance Achievement Award demonstrates Lee’s Summit Medical Center’s commitment to being one of the top hospitals in the country for providing aggressive, proven stroke care,” says Damond Boatwright, chief executive officer of Lee’s Summit Medical Center. “We will continue with our model on providing stroke care, which has been shown in scientific literature to quickly and efficiently treat stroke patients like Joseph Meyer.”
Stroke is the number three killer in the United States and a leading cause of long-term, severe disability, according to the American Stroke Association. Joseph knows that responding to a warning stroke can help prevent a major stroke in the future. “Get to the nearest Emergency Department with back-up from a certified Stroke Center as quickly as possible,” stresses Joseph. “Don’t think, ‘Maybe this will go away.’”
“Lee’s Summit Medical Center is to be commended for its commitment to implementing standards of care and protocols for treating stroke patients,” says Lee H. Schwamm, MD, chair of the Get With The Guidelines National Steering Committee and director of the TeleStroke and Acute Stroke Services at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. “The full implementation of acute care and secondary prevention recommendations and guidelines is a critical step in saving the lives and improving outcomes of stroke patients.”