|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 1, 2006
EAST HARLEM TO BENEFIT FROM METROPOLITAN HOSPITAL DESIGNATION AS STROKE CENTER
The heart of East Harlem will be in good hands as a result of the Metropolitan Hospital Center designation as the first official Stroke Center in the community where stroke victims can receive quality care and the urgent diagnosis and treatment needed to prevent disability or death often caused by strokes.
In January 2006, Metropolitan Hospital Center received designation from the NY State Health Department as an official Stroke Center, one of the first in Manhattan and the very first in East Harlem. With this designation, Emergency Medical Services (EMS) are expected to bring patients with stroke-like symptoms directly to Metropolitan, if they are within 20 minutes of the hospital.
“Stroke is a leading cause of disability and death in East Harlem,” stated Louis Martir, Executive Director of Metropolitan Hospital. “This designation underscores the quality, effective and efficient care we can provide. A Stroke Center designation ensures that stroke victims brought to Metropolitan will receive the urgent diagnosis and treatment that is a critical factor in preventing permanent disability or death.”
“The average age for stroke victims is 65.8 years for Hispanics, 70.5 for Blacks and 77.8 years for Whites.” In fact, the risk of stroke, compared to whites, is doubled in Hispanic women, tripled in Hispanic men and Black women, and increased by a factor of 5 in Black men. “Metropolitan intends to ensure a change in these statistics in our community,” Mr. Martir emphasized.
According to Barbara Koppel, MD, Director of the Stroke Center and Chief of Neurology at Metropolitan Hospital Center, “We have a stroke team of health care professionals from many departments, including radiology, neurology, medicine, rehab, intensive care, emergency medicine and EMTs, transporters, lab services, who are all specially trained to recognize, diagnose and provide the highest quality of care for stroke patients. Cooperation with the goal of getting streamlined care for every patient has motivated the team.”
The term stroke is used to describe ischemic events, where the blood supply to a part of the brain is blocked by a small clot or atherosclerosis, and hemorrhages or blood clot, where a blood vessel in the brain breaks open and leaks into the surrounding tissue.
“The earlier the treatment, the better the outcome,” said Dr. Koppel. In both cases, immediate treatment is warranted, because the 20% of strokes that are hemorrhagic are often more life-threatening than the ischemic ones, and may require surgery. If a person suffering from an ischemic stroke gets to the hospital within 3 hours from the onset of their neurologic symptoms, a “clot-busting” drug known as “tPA” may be able to reopen the circulation and undo the brain damage. The longer it takes for diagnosis and treatment, the more damage is caused to the brain, “For a stroke victim who suffers their event during their sleep or otherwise misses the opportunity for tPA, a lot can still be done. The faster this process, the more likely damage can be corrected.” In the Stroke Center patients undergo rapid evaluation, imaging and treatment 24 hours a day, every day, providing the best chance for complete recovery.
According to Metropolitan’s Stroke Team, it is critically important to recognize the signs or symptoms of a stroke. These include sudden weakness or numbness on one side of the body, poor coordination, confusion, difficulty speaking or understanding, double vision, or nausea. A simple test is to ask the person who may be having a stroke to hold both hands in the air, smile, and speak, according to Dr. Koppel. “If there is a problem with any one action, get to Metropolitan Hospital immediately to have this checked.”
José R. Sánchez, LMSW, LCSW, Senior Vice President of Generations +/Northern Manhattan Health Network, in which Met is a member, reiterated, “Metropolitan Hospital’s Stroke Center is available around the clock to provide the urgent care stroke victims need. Many lives will be saved and many will be spared the debilitating effects of stroke if you come as soon as possible to Metropolitan Hospital Center.”
“Metropolitan can diagnose and treat strokes very quickly, and has excellent rehabilitation services,” Mr. Martir, the Executive Director, repeated. “But our long-term goal is to prevent stroke altogether, by addressing the highly prevalent diseases that contribute to the area’s increased incidence of stroke.” These include diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol, abdominal obesity, cigarette and excess alcohol use, and lack of regular exercise. Heart disease occurs at a rate that is 40% higher than the rest of the city and diabetes is more than doubled. Education is the key, along with screening for these risk factors. Community Outreach can be arranged by calling (212) 423-6128. For a consultation or to make an appointment, contact the Department of Neurology at 423-6676.
Metropolitan Hospital Center is located at 97th Street between First and Second Avenues in East Harlem. It is a member of the NYC Health and Hospitals Corporation, the nation’s largest municipal health care system.
||Renelda Walker (HHC) 718-579-5777