Better care for stroke patients

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June 2, 2015 8:15 AM

Lloydminster stroke patients will see improvements to care with the new Stroke Action Plan, an initiative by the Alberta Health Services (AHS), which will standardize treatment for patients across the province. This will ensure that stroke patients in rural areas and small towns receive the same level of care as those in bigger cities like Edmonton, Calgary and Red Deer.

The action plan had garnered AHS and partnering hospitals, including Lloydminster, the Co-Chairs’ Award for Impact from the Canadian Stroke Congress for spearheading the plan.

As part of the initiative, Lloydminster Hospital has put together a Stroke Action Plan Team. Lloydminster Hospital medical unit manager Lori Worthing says the group is a multi-disciplinary team that can help patients through every stage of care from the emergency room to the follow-up clinic.

“It constitutes people from the emergency department and the medical ward as well. We deal with diet, nutrition, occupational therapy, physiotherapy and speech language pathology,” she said. “And because a stroke requires a multi-disciplinary approach, it requires not only emergency work, but follow-up care afterwards with exercise and retraining as well as change in lifestyle such as exercise routines, diet changes and sometimes learning how to speak again.”

Before the Stroke Action Plan was put forward, Worthing said the hospital still provided good care, but because it wasn’t standardized, physicians just did what they thought was in the patient’s best interest. But as different physicians have different opinions, this sometimes led to gaps in the system.

Now, having a standardized protocol in place across the province, everyone is treated the same, which will remove a lot of those gaps.

“It’s almost like a checklist system so everyone is seen triaged and treated in the same manner,” said Worthing. “It is less disjointed and everyone gets a much higher and inclusive level of care.”

Worthing said a couple of years ago it was noticed that stroke patients in rural areas weren’t getting the same level of care as those in urban centres, so AHS made the Stroke Action Plan to reach the less-populated regions to make sure people were treated equally province wide.

“They’ve finally completed that task and there are many other rural facilities in Alberta that are participating in this,” she said. “They now have the tools, the ability and the follow up that they didn’t have before and also have some better guidelines and better education.”

Patients on the Saskatchewan side of Lloydminster will also be able to take advantage of the Stroke Action Plan.

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