OMC Officials Concerned With Latest Stroke Numbers
Reminds the public that Stroke is an Emergency
Officials at Ozarks Medical Center (OMC) are concerned with the latest
stroke numbers. In October and November, twenty-one stroke patients sought
help too late to receive the tPA treatment. The key to surviving a stroke is time.
The problem is that patients are not calling 911 at the first sign of stroke.
They are waiting to ‘see what happens’ before they even ask
for help,” according to Gay Stover, OMC Executive Director of Marketing.
“By the time the patient or family decides to come to us, the stroke
has been going on for several hours or even days and it is too late. We
want the public to understand the importance of seeking help at the very
first symptom of stroke. We work closely with first responders and we
can often stop a stroke if the patient calls 911 at the first sign of
The benefit of receiving tPA treatment can make a huge difference in the
patient’s recovery. Stroke is a medical emergency where time is
very important. The clot buster, tPA must be given within 3 to 4 1/2 hours
from the start of stroke symptoms, but the sooner, the better. For some
patients, other treatment may be available for up to 12 hours. The American
Heart Association reports that unfortunately, only 4 percent of stroke
patients nationwide receive the recommended treatment in the key hours
The national standard is to administer the tPA within 60 minutes of arrival
at the hospital. OMC’s average for 2015 was 43 minutes.
“We are very proud that OMC’s response time beats the national
standard. The quicker someone can receive care for a stroke, the better
the outcomes for their long-term health,” Dr. Clara Applegate, OMC
Neurologist said. “Having a trained stroke response team ready to
act allows us to rapidly identify and assess a patient’s condition.
It is not always possible to prevent a stroke, but with timely, evidence-based
care, it is possible to prevent many of the complications of stroke.”
Dr. Applegate said it is critical for those who may be experiencing a stroke
to act fast and call 911.
“Even if you are close to the hospital, it is important to call 911,”
she said. “The paramedics can begin treatment in the ambulance and
can notify the Emergency Department to put the OMC Stroke Team on alert.
OMC’s multidisciplinary stroke team is made up of nurses, physicians,
neurologists, ambulance services, therapists and Emergency Department
workers who respond to stroke. According to Dr. Applegate, the first step
is that people need to be aware and call 911. All of the EMS systems (ground
and air ambulances) recognize that stroke is an emergency and that every
minute counts, so as soon as the 911 call comes in, EMS notifies the stroke
team at OMC to be on alert. When the patient arrives at the hospital the
stroke is confirmed by the doctors and CT scan is done right away. CT
scan of the head must be done right away to avoid giving clot buster to
someone with a hemorrhage or another problem. The “clot busting
drug,” tPA, may be given right away if the diagnosis is confirmed
and blood pressure is controlled.
“OMC has worked diligently over the past 19 years to educate the
community on the importance of fast action. Currently, we are able to
treat 29% of ischemic strokes with tPA at Ozarks Medical Center, much
higher than the national average. We attempt to treat 100% of strokes
that are eligible for treatment. We are striving for all patients who
come to be treatable, but that depends upon the community. Too often,
people wait to see if they'll get better. If they wait too long, we
cannot administer tPA,” according to Dr. Applegate “We have
been providing 24/7 stroke care since 1997 and with each year, we do a
little better, as more people recognize that stroke is an emergency."
Ozarks Medical Center is a designated Level 2 Stroke Center with a comprehensive
stroke team that goes into action with the 911 call. Signs of stroke are
easy to remember using the acronym FAST. (Face, Arm, Speech, Time). Face
drooping, Arm weakness, Speech Difficulty, Time to call 911. For more
information about stroke, contact the Ozarks Medical Center Neurosciences
Center at 417-257-6777. To schedule a speaker for your local church or
civic organization, contact OMC Public Relations Department at 417-257-6735.