St. Mary’s Stroke Center
READ: Not Your Usual Stroke
Cornel Kittell, veterinary surgeon, husband, father, U.S. Army veteran, and Madison County homesteader, awoke in a panic. It was trash collection day, and if his family’s trash wasn’t at the roadside soon, he would be stuck with the garbage all week.
His dash down the stairs ended with him recovering at St. Mary’s Health Care System from a potentially devastating stroke.
Stroke is a medical emergency.
If symptoms appear, call 911 immediately.
If you think you, or someone you are with, may be experiencing a stroke, call 9-1-1 immediately. Do not ignore or rationalize away stroke symptoms. Take action!
The Emergency Department at St. Mary’s Hospital offers high-speed diagnostics to evaluate stroke symptoms, and is prepared to administer the most modern treatments available, including the clot-busting drug tPA.
St. Mary’s is the first Advanced Primary Stroke Center in the Athens area and was one of the first 20 primary stroke centers to be certified in the nation, and was cited by the Joint Commission on the Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations as a model for other community hospitals seeking to improve stroke care.
When it comes to stroke, know the warning signs!
If you know the symptoms of stroke, you might save a life. They are:
• Sudden numbness/weakness of the face, arms or legs, especially on one side of the body
• Sudden confusion or trouble speaking or understanding speech
• Sudden trouble seeing out of one or both eyes
• Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, or loss of balance or coordination
• Sudden severe headache with no known cause
Call 911 immediately if someone begins showing symptoms of stroke!
Time lost is brain lost.
The Clot-Busting Drug, tPA
When deemed medically appropriate, tPA (tissue Plasminogen Activator) is currently the only FDA-approved drug for acute ischemic stroke, and is available at St. Mary’s Hospital. The sooner treatment begins, the more brain tissue can be saved. tPA must not be given to patients whose stroke is caused by a ruptured blood vessel however, so quick and high-tech testing is vital. St. Mary’s Hospital provides this testing in minutes. The recommendation to administer tPA can only be completed by a stroke specialist, and St. Mary’s Hospital’s utilization of the REACH system makes the administration of tPA available 24/7.
“REACH” stands for Remote Evaluation of Acute ischemic Stroke.
St. Mary’s Hospital is proud to utilize the REACH system in partnership with Georgia Regents University (formerly known as the Medical College of Georgia). This potentially life-saving telemedicine system enables specialist consults 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, allowing those specialists to remotely provide urgent consultations any time of day or night, including virtual examinations of both the patient and their corresponding brain imaging studies.
St. Mary’s is adding a significant advancement in the diagnosis and treatment of stroke, brain aneurysms, brain and neck tumors and other neurological conditions with the acquisition of a state-of-the-art neurointerventional biplane angiography system. This biplane system produces highly detailed three-dimensional views of blood vessels leading to the brain and deep within the brain.
The biplane represents a giant leap in helping physicians diagnose neurological abnormalities and then treat them with endovascular procedures, which entail the use of special instruments threaded inside the blood vessels of the brain and neck.
Support for Survivors & Caregivers
St. Mary’s Stroke Support Group meets monthly for stroke survivors, their caregivers, and others who are interested in learning about stroke. Each meeting includes an informational presentation plus time for participants to share their own experiences in a confidential and supportive group environment. Meetings are facilitated by a member of St. Mary’s stroke services team. A light meal is provided and meetings are free. This group is here to provide practical information, inspiration, camaraderie, and support. Handicapped parking is available on the lower level of St. Mary’s Parking Deck, with wheelchair-friendly access to the hospital and meeting room.
- St. Mary’s Stroke/Neuro Continuum of Care including: inpatient care, diagnostics, outpatient care, rehabilitation and support groups
- Check out interactive educational resources from the National Stroke Association, here.
- Visit the American Stroke Association website