Lawnwood’s Comprehensive Stroke Center has earned the Joint Commission’s accreditation as a Primary Stroke Center and is also a Florida Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) Licensed Comprehensive Stroke Center. To make an appointment with a physician from our stroke team, call 1 (800) 382-3522.

Lawnwood Regional Medical Center & Heart Institute is proud to be a Florida Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) Licensed Comprehensive Stroke Center. AHCA is the chief health policy and planning entity for the state. The Agency is responsible for health facilities licensure, inspection, and regulatory enforcement. The head of the Agency for Health Care Administration is the Secretary, who is appointed by the Governor, subject to confirmation by the Senate. (http://ahca.myflorida.com/inside_ahca/index.shtml)

Treasure Coast residents who experience a stroke now have some of the best treatment services in the country available right here at home.

Lawnwood Regional Medical Ceneter & Heart Institute is the area’s first and only comprehensive stroke center on the Treasure Coast.

A comprehensive stroke center handles all types of stroke patients, can provide immediate complex neurovascular procedures around the clock, and has a dedicated neuroscience intensive care unit and staff trained specifically in stroke care.

Lawnwood’s Stroke Center is headed by a super-specialized, fellowship-trained neurointerventionalist, Dr. Vikas Gupta.

Streamlined response protocol

The doctors have created a streamlined patient treatment protocol that begins before the patient arrives. Each team member receives a text or page alert that a patient is on the way.

A neurointerventionalist and an emergency room physician meet the patient at the entrance. While the patient is being transported by gurney to the CT scanner, which is on standby for the patient’s arrival, the doctors conduct a mobile evaluation.

Collaborative assessment

During that collaborative effort and following the scan, a decision is made what to do next. If there’s no bleeding in the brain, the patient is given TPA, the “clot busting” drug. Patients deemed to have a hemorrhagic stroke due to bleeding on the brain — versus one caused by a clot — are not given TPA as this could potentially increase bleeding in the brain.

Immediate endovascular surgery when appropriate

The team then decides whether a surgical procedure should be done, such as a catheter-directed thrombolysis, which removes the clot from the brain to re-establish blood flow. If so, the procedure is performed immediately. In a primary stroke center, the patient would have to be transported to a comprehensive stroke center to undergo this type of procedure by a neurointerventionalist. Transportation on the Treasure Coast to a comprehensive stroke center can take up to 90 minutes.

Dedicated neuroscience intensive care unit

The center includes a 24-bed neuroscience intensive care unit with special equipment, including a machine that monitors the patient’s EEG (brain waves) continuously and a CT scan machine for near-instant use if needed. This ICU provides stroke patients, and those with other neurological conditions such as traumatic brain injuries, with care by staff trained specifically in stroke treatment.

Specially-trained rehabilitation and care specialists

Within the center are occupational therapists and physical therapists who are educated specifically to help stroke patients. Additionally, every clinician is trained to recognize the signs and symptoms of stroke problems.

Pediatric service

Lawnwood’s Stroke Center, which sees five to eight “stroke alert” patients daily, is one of only a handful of stroke centers in the United States with a pediatric service. Although it’s rare, children as young as 3 can have strokes and need even more specialized care than adults.

Continuous improvement process

To ensure continuous improvement to their response and treatment protocols, the doctors go over every case together.

Each year, approximately 795,000 people suffer a stroke. Nearly three-quarters of all strokes occur in people older than 65.

If you think you are having a stroke, do not take aspirin. If you have the type of stroke caused by bleeding, aspirin can cause additional bleeding and make diagnosing the cause of the stroke more difficult.

Always call 911 and let emergency medical personal asses you and decide the best place to take you. Driving to the nearest hospital may not be the ideal option — even if it’s closer than the comprehensive stroke center — and could result in delayed treatment if transportation to a comprehensive stroke center is required.