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Published: Monday, April 23, 2012, 12:01 a.m.

Stroke ID program at Valley General

MONROE -- Skykomish Valley patients will be able to get a quicker answer on whether their symptoms signal the onset of a stroke through a program beginning next month at Valley General Hospital.
The hospital will be working with neurologists at Seattle's UW Medicine, who will be able to review a patient's diagnostic medical scans and consult with Valley General's emergency room physicians about the patient's symptoms.
The contract will cost the hospital $10,000 a year, said Mike Liepman, Valley General's chief executive. The hospital typically gets one or two patients a week with stroke symptoms.
Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in Snohomish County.
UW Medicine has similar programs at Cascade Valley Hospital in Arlington, as well as hospitals in Bremerton and Yakima, said Vicki Johnson, a manager in the UW stroke program.
The work to diagnose stroke patients often begins as they are being transported to the hospital, she said.
"By the time they (arrive), say 15 minutes from when they were picked up, they've got the stroke team mobilized to start the evaluation, blood work and imaging," Johnson said.
Hospital emergency room physicians typically can consult with UW neurologists in less than five minutes after a patient's arrival at the hospital, she said. UW staff also will provide training and workshops for Valley's hospital staff.
Valley's physicians currently consult with specialists when patients with stroke symptoms arrive at the hospital, Liepman said.
But sometimes it can take time to contact an on-call neurologist, and there's no guarantee the physician can view the patient's diagnostic images, such as CAT scans, online, he said.
The new system can help people avoid long-term disability and care that can run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars, Liepman said.
"If you're in this hospital, you will get guaranteed consultations from a neurologist who specializes in stroke management immediately," he said.
Sharon Salyer: 425-339-3486 or salyer@heraldnet.com
Stroke signs
Anyone with these common signs of stroke should call 911 immediately:
Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body.
Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding.
Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes.
Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination.
Sudden, severe headache with no known cause.
Source: American Stroke Association

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