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SMH Expands its Regional Stroke Network

SMH Expands its Regional Stroke Network

Thursday, May 26, 2022

SARASOTA (May 26, 2022) – Sarasota Memorial Hospital-Venice was officially designated a Primary Stroke Center this month, a specialty certification that expands SMH’s stroke network and ensures patients have seamless access to the most advanced stroke care on the Suncoast.

Certified by DNV GL Healthcare, the Primary Stroke Center designation signifies that SMH-Venice completed a rigorous onsite survey and met or exceeded all requirements established by state regulators and the national accrediting organization for advanced stroke care.

“With this designation, we are proud to expand Sarasota Memorial’s regional stroke network and offer the people of our community a highly qualified stroke team with the tools and expertise to provide a full range of care for stroke-related emergencies and medical problems,” said David K. Stone, MD, PhD, vascular neurologist and medical director of the Primary Stroke Center at SMH-Venice.

SMH-Venice is the third facility in Sarasota Memorial’s acute-care network to earn specialized stroke care designations. SMH-Sarasota is a nationally designated Comprehensive Stroke Center, the highest designation given to regional referral centers for people experiencing highly complex strokes, and its freestanding ER in North Port is designated as an Acute Stroke Ready Center. All three facilities follow the same emergency care protocols to diagnose and stabilize patients experiencing stroke emergencies, with helipads to speed transport time for patients who need to be airlifted from rural or outlying areas that lack the resources to treat stroke patients.

Paramedics triage and transport stroke patients to the nearest designated stroke center based on the type and severity of their stroke. More than 85% of strokes are acute ischemic stroke, meaning there is a clot or clog within a blood vessel blocking blood flow to the brain and depriving it of oxygen. If treated in the first 3 hours of their stroke symptoms, the majority of patients can be effectively treated with the clot-dissolving drug tPA at the nearest designated stroke center.

For those experiencing complex strokes or severe complications, paramedics typically will transport patients to SMH-Sarasota, the only designated Comprehensive Stroke Center in Sarasota County. The Sarasota Campus offers intensive medical and surgical care, specialized tests, and highly specialized interventional therapies, including thrombectomy, a neurointerventional procedure that uses a retrievable stent to mechanically extract a clot from the brain, and endovascular embolization, such as coiling, to stop an aneurysm from rupturing.

The SMH stroke network also offers the full continuum of stroke care, including inpatient rehabilitation and outpatient rehabilitation programs to help people recover from the effects of a stroke, education and prevention, including an outpatient disease management clinic to help people prevent secondary strokes.

That system-of-care approach ensures stroke patients receive the right care at the right time, regardless of which SMH facility initially treats and stabilizes, said vascular neurologist Mauricio Concha, medical director of Sarasota Memorial’s Comprehensive Stroke Center in Sarasota and stroke program in North Port.

“Strokes are brain attacks, and just like heart attacks, every second counts,” said Dr. Concha. “To prevent lasting brain damage, it is essential that people treat it like the emergency it is and call 9-1-1. Too many people wait to see if their symptoms will go away and miss a critical window for effective treatment.”

Stroke Facts at a Glance

  • Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in the United States and the number one leading cause of disability. In the U.S., approximately 795,000 people suffer a stroke each year.
  • There are two kinds of strokes―acute ischemic stroke and hemorrhagic (bleeding) stroke. More than 85% of strokes are acute ischemic stroke, meaning there is a clot or clog within a blood vessel blocking blood flow to the brain and depriving it of oxygen. There are multiple causes for ischemic stroke, including carotid stenosis―a narrowing of the arteries in the neck, and intercranial stenosis―a narrowing of the arteries in the brain. In a hemorrhagic stroke, bleeding in the brain requires the highest level of care.
  • The first three hours after a stroke are the most important because stroke treatments are extremely effective when administered as soon as possible after the onset of a stroke. For every minute that a stroke is left untreated, up to 2 million brain cells die, so seeking immediate medical attention is critical to a successful recovery.

Warning signs of a strokeClick on image to enlarge

  • Sudden weakness or numbness on one side of the body
  • Sudden unexplained dizziness or lack of balance
  • Sudden vision impairment, especially in one eye
  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause
  • Sudden slurred speech
  • Sudden droop on one side of the face

About Sarasota Memorial Health Care System 

Sarasota Memorial Health Care System, offering Southwest Florida’s greatest breadth and depth of care, provides services for more than 1 million patients each year across its 2 hospital campuses, freestanding ER, and network of outpatient care centers. The system’s 895-bed flagship facility, Sarasota Memorial Hospital-Sarasota, has been consistently recognized as one of the nation’s best acute-care hospitals, with superior patient outcomes and a complete continuum of care — from trauma, emergency and urgent care services to laboratory and diagnostic imaging, home health, skilled nursing and rehabilitation. Learn more at