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Recognizing and treating TIAs can reduce
the risk of a major stroke. A TIA can be viewed as a
second chance to improve your lifestyle habits before it’s too late.

Methodist Stroke Center
Making Strides in Stroke Care


Amy Lindsay, MD,
Medical Director,
Stroke Center and
Neurology Services
Each year about 700,000 people experience a new or recurrent stroke, which is the nation’s third leading cause of death. It is also the leading cause of serious, long-term disability in the United States, with about 4.7 million stroke survivors alive today.

Methodist Willowbrook Hospital is determined to improve those statistics within our community. If someone comes to our Emergency Department experiencing any of the symptoms for stroke, he or she will receive the best, most timely care possible right here.

“It’s our goal to earn the prestigious Gold Seal of Approval™ from The Joint Commission for Primary Stroke Centers this year,” says Valerie Howell, RN, MSN, MBA, NEA, BC, director of Critical Care Services and Stroke Program coordinator. “This recognition identifies those hospitals with best practices and outcomes in their stroke centers. We are already participating in ‘Get with the Guidelines’ from the American Heart Association. The Joint Commission certification provides the additional framework for a best-practices stroke center.”

A Roadmap to Certification
Howell identifies the following steps Methodist Willowbrook is taking to achieve the Gold Seal certification for our Stroke Care program:

Step 1: Establishing rapid-fire diagnostic and treatment protocols. Patients who come in during the first three hours of stroke onset are sent to CT quickly. The stroke team evaluates the patient and performs testing immediately, giving a life-saving reversible drug when possible. We also interact closely with the emergency medical services in our community so that paramedics can start drawing labs even as stroke patients are transported to our Emergency Department.

Step 2: Maintaining specially trained nurses and other medical personnel with advanced stroke training. Eighty percent of our Emergency Department staff receives specialized training specific to recognizing stroke symptoms in patients. “We challenge staff members to become stroke experts,” says Howell.

Step 3: Monitoring the quality of our procedures. Amy Lindsay, MD, neurologist and stroke medical director at Methodist Willowbrook Hospital, oversees the quality of all stroke procedures put into place. She helps educate the medical and nursing staffs and coordinates the implementation of the protocols that ensure the fastest treatment possible for patients to avoid the debilitating damage often associated with strokes.

Step 4: Interacting with The Methodist Hospital stroke team. As part of The Methodist Hospital system, we have access to nationally recognized neurosurgeons at The Methodist Hospital on specific stroke cases. We are the only hospital in the area that has this type of direct link into the Medical Center expertise, through our seamless network in electronic medical record and imaging connections. We don’t have to worry about a stack of medical records that need to get copied and sent to the Medical Center for those complex patients who might need care from a nationally known institution. The Methodist Hospital, ranked #13 in the nation in neurosciences by U.S. World & News Report, already has all records at their fingertips so that care is not delayed.

Step 5: Educating the community about strokes. “Part of our mission is to prevent long-term disability in stroke patients within our community,” says Howell. “That’s why we offer stroke prevention clinics, one-on-one education sessions with stroke patients before they are discharged, a robust outpatient physical therapy program and monthly stroke support groups.”

Be Mindful of a Mini-Stroke
Many times a full-blown stroke is proceeded by a mini-stroke. Known as a transient ischemic attack (TIA), a warning stroke produces strokelike symptoms but with no lasting damage. Recognizing and treating TIAs can reduce the risk of a major stroke. A TIA can be viewed as a second chance to improve your lifestyle habits before it’s too late. “The first three hours following the onset of stroke symptoms are critical,” says Dr. Lindsay. “A clot-busting drug called tissue plasminogen activator can reduce long-term disability if given within that three-hour window of stroke symptom onset. That’s why it is so important for everyone in our Emergency Department – from medical personnel to administrative staff – to be able to identify whether a patient walking through our doors is having a stroke.”

For more information on Methodist Willowbrook’s Stroke Care Program, please call 281-477-2500.

Recognizing the Signs of a Stroke

If you or a loved one is experiencing a stroke, every second counts. By knowing the warning signs of a stroke (and teaching them to others), you can save valuable time in seeking help for this life-threatening medical emergency.

  • Sudden numbness or weakness on one side of the body – often in the face, arm or leg.
  • Unexpected difficulty with speaking or understanding. Appearing confused for no reason.
  • Trouble seeing out of one or both eyes. Trouble walking, unexplained dizziness or loss of balance.
  • A sudden, severe headache with no apparent cause.

Call 9-1-1 immediately if you or a companion experiences one or more of these signs. Time is brain!