North Dakota’s Stroke System Trying to Increase Survival Rates

It was created in 2009


FARGO, N.D. — Not everyone who has a stroke will pick up the phone and call 911.

“We had 30,000 calls in 2018. Strokes only make up one percent and we know there’s a lot more people having strokes out there. Unfortunately they self-present to the hospitals and then they have family drive them too late.”

Lonski says people can experience a tougher recovery process by driving themselves to the hospital instead of calling an ambulance.

That’s because that time means everything, and EMT’s can put a rush on it.

“We need to get the hospital alerted. They can have things standing by and ready in the time that we’re taking them to the hospital instead of having to drive yourself and having to start the assessment all over,” said Kathy Lonski, F-M Ambulance improvement advisor.

North Dakota put together a Stroke System in 2009 so stroke patients can get all the information they need in one place.

“That timely care that they need and to really build the system that keeps up with the most updated information and recommendations and guidelines to really give those patients the care that they need,” Lonski said.

It’s also meant to improve emergent care which includes making sure hospitals are either an acute, primary or comprehensive stroke designated center.

“Acute stroke ready is our smaller critical access hospitals. Our comprehensive are the ones that can admit those patients and keep a close eye on them,” said Danielle Schoch, with the North Dakota Department of Health.

Sanford and Essentia Health in Fargo are both comprehensive stroke designated hospitals. Every time either hospital treats someone for a stroke, they are required to put it into the state’s stroke system registry.

“It really has all the patient information without any identifiers. It’s a good way for us to track how many strokes we’re having a day, what are the times, how long it did it take to start that medication if they got it., why didn’t they get the medication, which there are reasons for as well,” Schoch said.

According to the CDC, strokes were the sixth leading cause of death in North Dakota in 2017. EMT’s hope those numbers will keep shrinking over the years as the state’s Stroke System continues to keep emergency responders, hospitals and patients up to date on stroke care.

“Community awareness is the biggest but getting us all to work together as a system to provide the best quality care for the patient is all about what the system is,” Lonski said.

The CDC says Cass and Grand Forks Counties had the lowest rates of people 35 and older dying from a stroke in the state from 2014 to 2016.

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