Time to Act F.A.S.T. at the NJ State House

Time to Act F.A.S.T. at the NJ State HouseThe American Heart Association and American Stroke Association hosted an event at the State House on Monday, May 21 to re-enact a stroke situation to show legislators, media and the public the signs of stroke and to explain the necessary steps to save a patient experiencing a stroke while urging support of pending legislation which focuses on improving stroke systems of care in the Garden State.

The event included American Heart Association volunteers: Christine Rochelle of Wall, a stroke survivor; Gina Petrone Mumolie DNP, MBA, RN, NEA-BC, board member for the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association South-Central NJ Board of Directors and Senior Vice President Hospital Administration, Capital Health; Dr. Michael Stiefel, Director, Capital Institute for Neurosciences; Joan Helfman, chair of the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association Northern NJ Board of Directors; and Joan Acevedo of Freehold, survivor ambassador and board member for the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association South-Central NJ Board of Directors.

Stroke, a disruption in blood flow to the brain by a blocked or ruptured artery, is the No. 3 leading cause of death in NJ and also a leading cause of disability. When someone has a stroke, they need appropriate treatment quickly. The sooner a patient gets treatment, the more likely they are to survive with better outcomes.Time to Act F.A.S.T. at the NJ State House

Rochelle and Acevedo acted as the stroke patient and bystander, respectively, to simulate a stroke event.  Rochelle, who suffered a stroke at age 27, presented with common stroke symptoms as Acevedo, a heart disease survivor, recognized the symptoms and enacted the chain of survival by mock-dialing 9-1-1, at which point Capital Health EMS took over to run through the medical evaluation of the “patient.”  After that, the entire audience was invited to tour the Mobile Stroke Unit, an ambulatory stroke unit that can assess and prepare a stroke patient in route to the hospital.

A stroke happens in the U.S. every 40 seconds and stroke can happen to anyone at anytime.  It’s important to know the signs of stroke and get help fast.  The American Stroke Association recommends using the acronym F.A.S.T. to remember the most common type of stroke symptoms:

  • F- Face drooping
  • A- Arm weakness
  • S- Speech difficulty
  • T- Time to call 9-1-1

The event also raised awareness for a current bill pending before the NJ Legislature (S995/A3670). The many stroke centers in New Jersey submit to regular assessments by an outside accrediting body to obtain certification that the stroke care they provide meets a strict set of guidelines and the most up to date best practices are in place.  The bill will require all Primary and Comprehensive Stroke Centers to undergo this process. Currently, there is no process in place for state designated stroke centers to undergo a regular evaluation of their stroke services to ensure compliance with the guidelines.  In addition, the bill would also require EMS providers to have protocols in place to identify when someone is having a stroke and transport them to the most appropriate facility as quickly as possible. It will also create a new designation tier for Acute Stroke Ready hospitals, which benefits patients by creating more entry points into the system of care

Asm. Dan Benson and Sen. Joe Vitale, bill sponsors for A3670 and S995, respectively, were also in attendance for the event.

“As the third leading cause of death for New Jerseyans, we all have family and friends who have been affected by this terrible disease,“ said Assemblyman Dan Benson.  “We need to ensure that stroke victims get the best care possible throughout the state and this bill will help achieve that.”

New Jersey has historically been a leader in stroke care. In fact, the Garden State was the first to designate primary and comprehensive stroke centers in 2004. Since that time, new best practices have been observed and developed and NJ’s system could benefit from implementing these improvements to stroke care.

“When someone has a stroke, they need help immediately, but are not able to advocate for themselves in the moment. This legislation will save lives by ensuring that patients are transported to a facility that can provide the treatment they need without delay.”

The American Heart Association and American Stroke Association is dedicated to preventing, treating and beating heart disease and stroke, the No. 1 and No. 5 killers in the U.S and the two leading causes of death in the world.  By working with volunteers, the Association funds innovative research, fights for stronger public health policies and provides lifesaving tools and information to prevent and treat these diseases.

For more information, please visit www.StrokeAssociation.org.

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