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Coordinating Care for Stroke Patients

05-15-2018

While some people recover completely, stroke remains the fifth leading cause of death in the United States. However, research studies and clinical practice show that comprehensive stroke care—including strong leadership from a full-time stroke coordinator—can greatly improve a patient’s return to home, family and loved ones.

That’s why having a dedicated stroke coordinator has become a standard of care over the last decade in leading hospitals throughout the world—including Mission Hospital, the only hospital in south Orange County providing advanced neurologic care for stroke.

“One of my most important jobs is to help families cope with their loved one’s stroke,” says Diana Tai, RN, Stroke Coordinator at the Mission Neuroscience Institute at Mission Hospital.

“That starts here at the hospital—making sure the family understands exactly what’s happening, making sure the care team is doing everything necessary, and confirming that it’s all properly coordinated.”

Stroke coordinators usually have nursing training. Their role is to help the stroke patient from admission to discharge from the hospital. They are equal parts caregiver, patient and family advocate, and in-house expert on all aspects of stroke care. They are responsible for clinical procedures, staff training, and data collection to monitor the success of the program.

The stroke coordinator can also play a crucial role in the transition from hospital to home care, which can be particularly difficult for those who are older. “The incidence of stroke is higher among older Americans, and this is an important consideration for our community since we have a high proportion of older residents,” says Tai.

Relationships between stroke survivors and their loved ones often become strained as family members struggle to adapt to their new caregiving responsibilities. The disruption is often hardest with spouses—but all family relationships can suffer from the stress caused by the victim’s reduced capabilities or behavioral changes.

The key to success is individualized care in familiar surroundings from family members who are fully trained and have all the necessary information and support—including access to counseling and therapy.

For Tai, ensuring that the survivor’s family gets that training and support is all in a day’s work. She also has a hand in Mission Hospital’s community outreach, teaching members of the community how to tell if someone is having a stroke—and what to do about it.

The work of Tai, and the entire team of stroke experts at Mission Hospital, is all part of the hands-on, individualized patient care that anchors the Mission Neuroscience Institute. Mission Hospital is a Primary Stroke Center, recognized by the Joint Commission for following rigorous national standards and guidelines that can significantly improve outcomes for stroke patients. Mission Hospital is also an Orange County Emergency Medical Services designated Stroke-Neurology Receiving Center.

To learn more about exceptional neurological care at the Mission Neuroscience Institute, click here or call (877) 459-3627.

Symptoms of a stroke can include sudden severe headaches, numbness or paralysis, vision problems, and sudden difficulty walking or talking. A stroke occurs when part of the brain is deprived of blood—either because of a blocked blood vessel (ischemic stroke) or bleeding in the brain (hemorrhagic stroke).

When it comes to stroke, remember to think FAST.