By Becky Carter
President/CNO, Blue Ridge Regional Hospital
While we wish there weren’t such a need, we know that we live in America’s stroke belt. Given that reality, we want to share some exciting things are happening in the world of stroke care at Mission Health and Blue Ridge Regional Hospital. This month we’ll update you on a well-known stroke identification acronym, some exciting new stroke treatment technology we’re fortunate to have, and a wonderful opportunity for stroke survivors and their caregivers.
Many have heard about the FAST checklist to help with identifying stroke: Face (is one side drooping?), Arms (can the person lift both arms high?), Speech (is it slurred?), and Time to call 9-1-1 (if these symptoms are observed). Two new components have now been added by the American Stroke Association: Balance (is the person’s balance normal, can they stand by themselves?) and Eyes (is there sudden blurred or double vision?). The new acronym is BEFAST; still easy to remember, and vital to activate if one suspects a person might be having a stroke. The phrase “Time is brain” is often used to explain how every second counts when accessing stroke care; getting treated promptly is paramount to recovery and survival.
A game changing stroke diagnostic tool, RAPID software, is transforming how quickly and clearly clinicians can determine a stroke’s severity, including what percentage of the brain has not been damaged by the stroke. After the patient receives an IV contrast, RAPID software shows in real time critical data on brain areas that are treatable and areas that have sustained irreversible damage. Mission Health Neuro ICU physician Dr. Robert Hendry likens the technology to an extended deadline, of sorts, in that the window to minimize or even reverse stroke damage is extended from just a few hours potentially up to a full day. “We’re able to see those parts of the brain that have been irreversibly damaged but also the parts of the brain that are in the process of dying where we’re able to restore blood flow and save that brain tissue,” says Dr. Hendry. This life-altering technology is not just available at Mission Hospital, but right here in Spruce Pine. BRRH is equipped with RAPID software so we can treat patients in a way that revolutionizes their potential recovery.
Since stroke is debilitating and the #1 cause of adult long-term disability, survivors and their family/friend caregivers can suffer burnout; each deserves a break. Mission Health’s weekend-long Retreat and Refresh Stroke Camp is just what the doctor ordered for campers: a place to have fun and enjoy outdoor activities, crafts, learn – and possibly most importantly – enjoy the opportunity of sharing experiences with fellow stroke survivors. There’s something special about the validation that a survivor experiences when interacting with someone who has walked their same path. Stroke Camp is scheduled for September 7-9 at beautiful Lake Junaluska. Registration is open and details can be found on our blog.
It’s also Mission Month at BRRH, and that means recognizing our extraordinary team members. On August 2nd, hospital leadership and the GPTWP (Great Place to Work and Practice) team delivered ice cream and popsicles to departments, and on the 22nd every team member will be served a delicious and healthy lunch to recognize and celebrate their great work. We are only able to do what we do because of our extraordinary team; if you see a team member, please thank them for their contribution to our community!
Rebecca W. Carter, MSN, RN, FACHE is President and Chief Nursing Officer of Blue Ridge Regional Hospital in Spruce Pine. Carter has served in senior hospital management for over 20 years and previously served as Chief Operating Officer and Chief Nursing Officer of Transylvania Regional Hospital in Brevard, also a part of the Mission Health system.