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ND Medical Pros Discuss How to Provide Best Cardiac, Stroke Care

At a conference in Fargo, medical professionals are talking about the need for cardiac and stroke care for North Dakotans across the state. (Jerry Oster)
At a conference in Fargo, medical professionals are talking about the need for cardiac and stroke care for North Dakotans across the state. (Jerry Oster)
October 12, 2016

FARGO, N.D. - People in rural states such as North Dakota are facing challenges to deliver new, improved emergency medical services, at the same time they're seeing a decline in the number of Emergency Medical Responders. Several hundred people are meeting in Fargo this week to talk about stroke and cardiac systems of care, and how best to deliver them.

Dr. Jeffrey Sather, a board-certified emergency-room physician and medical director of Trinity Health's Emergency Trauma Center in Minot, said treatment standards have changed rapidly in the past few years.

"The minute you recognize stroke symptoms, you need to be calling 911 to be taken to the hospital and make that quick evaluation to get the proper treatment," he said, "which could be clot-busting drugs in some cases; could be intervention, where you go to a cath lab and have actually have clots pulled out of arteries or veins."

He said the term "system of care" includes everything from the initial emergency contact to rehabilitation services. The conference is focused on ways to make sure everyone has access to the best care, no matter where they live. While treatments are improving, Sather said, many ambulance services, especially in rural areas, are having difficulties finding and keeping personnel, including volunteers.

"We don't have the volunteer base that we used to have, for many reasons, and the ambulance services, especially in oil country, have gotten significantly busier, where they can't rely on volunteers," he said. "In some of the small communities where businesses have shifted, there's not the population base to do that."

Sather says the treatments are saving lives, so it's more than a matter of money. He says they're discussing different ways to deliver those emergency services.

"The quicker model might be some quick-response people that are quickly notified at the time of dispatch," he said, "that instead of responding to an ambulance could respond directly to the scene with things like AEDs and some basic first-aid equipment to help that person until the ambulance, that now may need to come from a greater distance, can make the trip."

The first day of the conference focused on stroke diagnosis and treatments, with the second day concentrated on cardiac topics. It wraps up today.

Jerry Oster, Public News Service - ND