Aitkin’s hospital recertified as ‘stroke ready’

Riverwood’s ER staff includes, L to R, Drew Van Santen, Dr. David Taylor, Amanda Sample, Heather Gretschmann, Gordy Schwartz & Amanda Olver

Recently, Riverwood Healthcare Center achieved recertification for its designation as an Acute Stroke Ready Hospital from the Minnesota Department of Health. The recertification period covers July 1, 2021, through June 30, 2024; the initial designation was awarded to Riverwood in 2015.

In 2013, the Minnesota Legislature authorized the Minnesota Department of Health to designate hospitals in Minnesota as “stroke hospitals.” The designations from lowest to highest level of stroke care are Acute Stroke Ready Hospitals, Primary Stroke Centers, and Comprehensive Stroke Centers.

“When it comes to a stroke diagnosis, getting medical treatment as soon as possible is critical to preventing loss of brain function,” said Drew Van Santen, Stroke Program coordinator for Riverwood. “Here at Riverwood, our medical and nursing staff has advanced training and is ready to deliver high-quality stroke care close to home.”

The stroke-ready designation means that a hospital is equipped to evaluate, stabilize and provide emergency care to patients with acute stroke symptoms. For example, a stroke-ready hospital always has a stroke team available, has a CT scanner onsite and can administer a key clot-dissolving drug called tPA.

In 2017, approximately 2.4% of adults in Minnesota reported ever having had a stroke in their lifetime – more than 100,000 people. More than 5% of all deaths in Minnesota are due to stroke (2,248 deaths in 2017), making it the sixth-leading cause of death in the state.

It is important to know how to spot a stroke fast and call 9-1-1. You can recognize the signs and symptoms of a stroke by remembering B.E.F.A.S.T. B is for balance issues, E for eyesight difficulty, F for facial weakness/drooping, A for arm weakness, S for speech difficulty, and T for time to call 9-1-1.