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St. Elizabeth’s Hospital Named 1 of 21 Emergent Stroke Ready Hospitals in Illinois

Belleville, IL — St. Elizabeth’s Hospital was recently designated as an Emergent Stroke Ready Hospital by the Illinois Department of Public Health. St. Elizabeth’s achieved this special designation by implementing emergency stroke care policies and procedures to align with nationally recognized evidence based standards and criteria, like those from the American Heart/Stroke Association and Brain Attack Coalition.   

This follows the state of Illinois’ approval of legislation in 2009 and the updated legislation this year to create stroke care systems and special designations for hospitals who meet requirements to appropriately respond to stroke patients immediately upon arrival. Outlined criteria to receive the Emergent Stroke Ready Designation includes developing and adhering to written emergency stroke protocols and the ability, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, to provide the following:

  • thrombolytic therapy (tPA) used to break or dissolve blood clots
  • brain image testing (CT scans) and
  • blood coagulation studies 

“We are pleased to receive the Emergent Stroke Ready designation as St. Elizabeth’s Hospital is the only Emergent Stroke Ready Hospital in the Metro East and is one of only 21 hospitals in the Illinois to achieve this designation,” said Dr. Shelly Harkins, Chief Medical Officer for St. Elizabeth’s Hospital. “Receiving this high-level designation once again reaffirms our commitment to offering region leading, high-quality stroke care for all residents of the Metro East.”

St. Elizabeth’s chose to apply for the Emergent Stroke Ready Designation after implementing its Stroke Telemedicine Program, in partnership with C30 Stroke Telemedicine Services, in December 2013. The telemedicine services offer real-time access to world class neurologists using an audio and video connection through a telemedicine robot.

When a potential stroke patient arrives at St. Elizabeth’s, staff alerts an on-call expert for immediate consultation through videoconferencing. Then, a world class neurologist from facilities such as UCLA, Yale, or the Colorado Neurological Institute has the ability to interact face-to-face with the patient, family members and Emergency Department staff in order to make and an immediate diagnosis and begin advanced stroke treatment and interventions.  This advanced technology allows residents from the metro east, to remain close to home, saving valuable time, when it matters most.

“In the event of a stroke, ‘time is brain’ as patients need to receive possible life saving treatment as soon as possible,” noted Alison Kennedy, BSN, RN and Stroke Coordinator at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital.  “With our new Emergent Stroke Ready designation and partnership with C3O Stroke Telemedicine, EMS providers can confidently bring stroke patients to St. Elizabeth’s, where they will receive appropriate treatments immediately to ensure the best possible outcomes. Seeking treatment at a prepared facility can make a great difference in patient outcomes and quality of life.  This may even make the difference between life and death.” 

Kennedy encourages all community members to learn how to spot a stroke and “ACT F.A.S.T.” as every hour into a stroke, the brain is aged 3.6 years and someone dies as a result of a stroke every 3-4 minutes. Kennedy also stressed the importance of understanding that a stroke can occur at any age. While stroke is often thought of as an older person's health issue, research from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), confirms that the rate of strokes among children and young adults is sharply rising.  In fact, the stroke hospitalization rate from 1995 to 2008 was 30% to 37% higher among those aged 15-44, according to the study. 

Signs and symptoms of stroke include:

  • sudden numbness or weakness in the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
  • sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
  • sudden difficulty seeing in one or both eyes, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination, sudden severe headache with no known cause

Follow this F.A.S.T. acronym if someone is exhibiting any of the above symptoms:

FACE – Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?

ARMS – Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?

SPEECH– Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Is their speech slurred or strange?

TIME – If you observe any of these signs, call 9-1-1 immediately.

For more information on St. Elizabeth’s Emergent Stroke Ready Designation and Stroke Telemedicine Program visit, www.steliz.org.



About Hospital Sisters Health System

Hospital Sisters Health System is a Roman Catholic health care mission founded to continue the healing ministry of Jesus Christ. Sponsored by the Hospital Sisters of St. Francis, HSHS provides state-of-the-art health care framed in traditional values taught by St. Francis and St. Clare of Assisi.  It is dedicated to serving all people, including the poor and the needy, at each of its 13 Local Systems and physician practices in Illinois (Belleville, Breese, Decatur, Effingham, Highland, Litchfield, Springfield and Streator) and Wisconsin (Chippewa Falls, Eau Claire, Sheboygan and two in Green Bay).  For more information about HSHS, visit www.hshs.org.



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