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Recent News

The American Heart Association applauds Herington Municipal Hospital as being one of 46 Kansas hospitals to declare Emergent Stroke Readiness

Stroke mortality rate is higher in rural Kansas than urban community counterparts. This created a need for a statewide system of stroke care. Herington Municipal Hospital recently jumped on board to become part of the solution.

(May 8, 2013) - Today the American Heart Association and the Kansas State Stroke Task Force announced nine additional Kansas hospitals (46 Kansas hospitals in total) that are Emergent Stroke Ready and able to adequately care for a stroke patient brought to their facility. Herington Municipal Hospital in Herington, Kan. was one of those hospitals that provided the necessary documentation to be named as Emergent Stroke Ready as part of the Kansas Initiative For Stroke Survival (KISS).

"Because stroke treatment must be initiated within a very short time frame it is crucial that medical facilities, regardless of size, be prepared to evaluate and treat these patients, and if necessary, transfer them to a larger facility," said Dr. Lechtenberg, neurologist and chairperson of the Kansas State Stroke Task Force. "In Kansas, we are calling that readiness, Emergent Stroke Ready. Without these facilities, treatment options are greatly reduced."

To date, there are currently 58 hospitals participating in the KISS in one of four categories: Emergent Stroke Ready (46), Primary Stroke Center (8), 24/7 Neuro-Interventional Center/Primary Stroke Center (3) or Comprehensive Stroke Center (1). Emergent Stroke Ready hospitals (ESRHs) can diagnose, treat, and transport acute stroke patients to a higher level of care as warranted. ESRHs must also annually attest to the Kansas State Stroke Task Force their continued compliance with designation criteria.

Led by a team of more than 50 medical professionals known as the Kansas State Stroke Task Force, KISS is a project BY Kansans, FOR Kansans. The task force, which began in 2004, was created to study and address the issue of stroke care in Kansas and develop a comprehensive system of stroke care. Since its inception it has been directly supported by the American Heart Association. After nine months - the percent of IV tPA treatment in Kansas has increased from 5.22 percent to 7.20 percent. In addition a larger number of Kansans are being transferred from Emergent Stroke Ready hospitals to higher level hospitals for additional stroke care.

There is still much more work to be done in subsequent phases to get the remaining 60 hospitals in Kansas to participate and increase stroke survival numbers in the state of Kansas.

Other SHN Members recognized as Emergent Stroke Ready:
  • Anthony Medical Center, Anthony
  • Clay County Medical Center, Clay Center
  • Herington Municipal Hospital, Herington
  • Mitchell County Hospital Health Systems, Beloit
  • Republic County Hospital, Belleville
  • Salina Regional Health Center, Salina
  • Smith County Memorial Hospital, Smith Center

According to the American Heart Association, the expected use of tPA (clot buster) as a stroke treatment is 10 - 15 percent. The use of tPA in Kansas is far below this. "Part of the reason for this low treatment rate is limited access to neurologists, stroke specialists or physicians that have more experience in recognition and treatment of stroke," said Dr. Lechtenberg. "ESRHs now have 24/7 telephone access to stroke physicians to aid in appropriate treatment and transfer of stroke patients. This helps hospitals that do not have this stroke expertise to be prepared to urgently treat a stroke."

In 2008 the task force studied a statewide stroke survey that revealed less than 25 percent of Kansans knew the signs and symptoms for a stroke and that calling 9-1-1 should be the first response to a stroke. During another survey administered to Kansas medical facilities in 2010, a staggering 43 percent of Kansas hospitals noted that they were not equipped or staffed to care for stroke patients. Additionally, less than 18 percent had tPA (clot buster) available.

"We know that this new system of stroke care will save more lives in Kansas," said Cherie Boxberger, director of quality and system improvement, American Heart Association. "Early results indicate Kansas is on the way to improved care for Acute Ischemic Stroke but we still need the remaining hospitals in Kansas to get involved. With 100 percent participation from medical facilities and EMS Services across the state, we can optimize treatment and save more lives!"

The American Heart Association encourages anyone living in and around Herington who appears to have the signs and symptoms of a stroke to immediately call 9-1-1 and request to be sent to Herington Municipal Hospital. Be sure to note when the stroke victim was last known to be well.

Stroke is treatable. If you recognize the warning signs, you can respond fast in a stroke emergency. By calling 9-1-1, you have a greater chance of survival and recovery. Remember the acronym F.A.S.T. to help you recognize symptoms and what to do.

  • F - Face weakness
  • A - Arm weakness
  • S - Speech difficulties
  • T - Time to call 9-1-1

"Stroke is a medical emergency and time lost is brain lost," said Dr. Lechtenberg. "Anyone showing signs of a stroke MUST be evaluated in a hospital within the stroke system of care as soon as possible." If given within three hours, a clot-busting drug called tPA can reduce long-term disability for the most common type of stroke.

Dr. Lechtenberg continued, "If you or someone you know is showing the signs of a stroke don’t go to bed and see if you are better in the morning, don’t wait to see if you feel better tomorrow, and most certainly don’t bypass your local Emergent Stroke Ready hospital."

Stroke is the fourth leading cause of death for all Kansans and is the leading cause of disability; that’s one in every 16 deaths. Fortunately as a nation, stroke mortality rates are decreasing, however Kansas has a higher rate of death due to stroke compared to the national average (46.5 versus 43.6 for the U.S. - mortality rate per 100,000). Additionally, stroke mortality is higher for African Americans in Kansas than their white counterparts and those living in rural communities also have a higher stroke mortality rate than those in urban or semi-urban Kansas communities.

For more information visit The KISS map will be updated quarterly as more Kansas hospitals become part of the Kansas System of Stroke Care.


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