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Health-Care Advocates Call for Speedy Passage of Stroke Bills

It is recommended that stroke patients are treated within three to four-and-a-half hours of the first sign of stroke. (Pixabay)
It is recommended that stroke patients are treated within three to four-and-a-half hours of the first sign of stroke. (Pixabay)
January 11, 2018

RICHMOND, Va. -- Stroke is the fourth-leading cause of death and disability in Virginia, and there are two bills in the Virginia General Assembly that health advocates say will lead to more lives being saved.

House Bills 1197 and 1198, by Representative T. Scott Garrett, R-Lynchburg, would collect stroke data from hospitals and help recognize all stroke-designated centers to ensure patients are transported to the appropriate stroke care facility when in need.

Stroke survivor Shannon Hunnicutt said she was misdiagnosed during an unusual 22-day period. Although she survived, she said not everyone is as fortunate.

"I may have made it 22 days, but most people don’t,” Hunnicutt said. “And finding the right facility to render care, and on a very quick basis, when someone shows any type of stroke symptom is key to saving those lives."

The goal of the legislation is to update Virginia's code to reflect current practice in systems of care with EMS agencies and hospital systems.

According to the American Heart Association, 79 percent of nationally stroke-certified hospitals, and 43-out-of-85 Virginia hospitals already are collecting stroke data, but it isn't shared or analyzed at a state or regional level.

Pat Lane, an administrative director for neuroscience at the Bon Secours Health System, said quick treatment does reduce the chances of disability or death.

"We are caring for our community as fast as we can and making sure that we are decreasing disability as quickly as we can,” Lane said. “So this type of bill helps us to have stronger systems of care throughout the Commonwealth."

The American Heart Association said the Virginia Department of Health already has the data collection system in place. The only thing left to do is make the information shareable through a statewide registry.

Trimmel Gomes, Public News Service - VA