By Michele Pilon
President/CNO, Transylvania Regional Hospital
While we wish there weren’t such a need, we know that we live in America’s stroke belt. Given that reality, there are some very exciting things happening in the world of stroke care at Mission Health and at Transylvania Regional Hospital that we want to share. This month we’ll talk about an update on the long-known acronym that helps people identify stroke symptoms, some exciting new stroke treatment technology we’re fortunate to have access to, and a wonderful opportunity for stroke survivors and their caregivers.
Many have heard about the FAST checklist to help with checking for stroke, meaning 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 crucial every second is when a stroke is happening; getting treated as soon as possible is paramount to recovery and survival.
A game changing stroke diagnostic tool called RAPID software has transformed how quickly and clearly clinicians can determine stroke’s severity, down to what percentage of the brain has not been affected, and damaged, by the stroke. After the patient receives an IV contrast, the RAPID software provides critical data on the areas of the brain that are treatable and the areas that have sustained irreversible damage – in real time. Dr. Robert Hendry is a Mission Health neuro ICU physician, and likens this medical 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 to 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 Brevard. Transylvania Regional Hospital is equipped with RAPID software, and we can treat patients in a new way that revolutionizes their recovery.
Since stroke is debilitating and the number 1 cause of adult long-term disability, stroke survivors and their family/friend caregivers definitely deserve 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, games, and crafts, learn – and possibly most importantly – enjoy the opportunity of sharing experiences and conversations 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.
Transylvania Regional Hospital continues to strive to give our community members the best, most advanced care available, and to treat the whole patient. Current information on stroke, medical technology to treat stroke patients, and our wonderful Retreat and Refresh Stroke Camp are all accessible benefits we’re proud to offer our community.
Michele Pilon, MS, BSN, RN, NE-BC, is the President and CNO of Transylvania Regional Hospital. Her diverse professional experience includes service as a bedside nurse and over a decade as a leader at healthcare institutions in Virginia, Florida, and North Carolina. Ms. Pilon earned a Bachelor’s in Nursing from Ohio’s University of Akron and a Masters in Health Services Administration from the University of St. Francis in Illinois; she is also a Board-Certified Nursing Executive.