Published on March 05, 2021

Essentia Health-Sandstone re-designated as Acute Stroke Ready hospital

Did you know that nearly one-third of all people in Minnesota who suffer a stroke seek initial care at a rural hospital? That’s one reason Essentia Health-Sandstone is so excited to be re-designated as an Acute Stroke Ready hospital by the Minnesota Department of Health. The MDH awards the certification to hospitals based on their preparedness to evaluate, stabilize and provide emergency treatment to patients who have serious stroke symptoms.

Nine of Essentia’s hospitals in Minnesota now have the acute stroke ready certification, including Ada, Aurora, Deer River, Detroit Lakes, Fosston, Graceville, Moose Lake and Virginia. These rural hospitals work in tandem with Essentia’s two primary stroke centers, located at Essentia Health-St. Mary’s Medical Center in Duluth and Essentia Health-St. Joseph’s Medical Center in Brainerd, along with our Comprehensive Stroke Center at Essentia Health-Fargo.

The criteria to earn stroke certification from the MDH is significant and includes having a designated medical director and stroke care team, training nursing and pharmacy staff to administer clot-dissolving drugs, establishing emergency department protocols and having brain-imaging capabilities. In addition, hospitals must work with emergency medical services (EMS) in the field to establish protocols.

“Our virtual site visit went fantastic,” says Dr. Erika Miles, medical director at Essentia Health-Sandstone. “Our strengths included a culture of values and teamwork. It’s an honor to work alongside such a talented, engaged team.”

Minnesota hospitals treat approximately 11,000 strokes each year, and rural hospital readiness is critical to patient outcomes since more than one-third of Minnesotans live more than 60 minutes away from a primary stroke center.

A stroke can be life-threatening and requires immediate medical attention. You can recognize the signs and symptoms of a stroke by using the acronym FAST:

F: Facial droop and numbness
A: Arm weakness
S: Speech difficulty
T: Time to call 9-1-1

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