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Thrombectomy Capabilities Bring Life-Saving Stroke Care to St. Charles
Ashley Davis

Thrombectomy Capabilities Bring Life-Saving Stroke Care to St. Charles

Barnes-Jewish St. Peters Hospital has been certified as a Thrombectomy-Capable Stroke Center by the Joint Commission. Thrombectomy is an interventional procedure to treat stroke that’s fast, safe and may get patients back to their lives sooner. By providing thrombectomies to St. Charles County and the greater St. Louis community, BJC HealthCare has the ability to potentially save more lives at risk of serious damage from strokes.

“This certification recognizes Barnes-Jewish St. Peters as a center of excellence providing one of the most advanced and important stroke treatments ever discovered,” says Brendan Eby, MD, Washington University vascular and endovascular surgical neurologist. “The partnership of BJC HealthCare and Washington University Physicians to bring this new but critically important treatment to St. Charles County helps us with our shared mission of advancing cutting-edge medical science and bringing this out to our entire community in St. Louis.”

The most common type of stroke is an ischemic stroke, when a blood clot blocks an artery leading to the brain, and there are two primary treatments: thrombolytic medication, emergency clot-busting medication that can be used within four and a half hours of a stroke, and thrombectomy.

The goal of a thrombectomy is to restore blood flow to the brain as quickly as possible to stop the damage being caused by the stroke. This is done by inserting a catheter in an artery and advancing it to the blood clot. Tools are then used to pull the blood clot out of the blood vessel.

Paul Held, a St. Charles County resident and middle school math teacher, underwent a thrombectomy procedure at BJC. His daughter called 911 after Held contacted her about feeling numbness his left side. The procedure was painless for Held, who was sedated for it and woke up with few signs any procedure had occurred apart from a bandage on his right wrist from where they had inserted the catheter.

“Everyone at BJC was wonderful,” says Held. “They took care of me and got my family there right away, and that helped ease my fears since they could also take care of logistics, which helped me rest easy while getting better. My wife said, ‘I know I’m getting my husband back now,’ and I don’t know if I would have gotten back if not for this procedure and Dr. Eby.”

Though he still experiences some left side weakness, Held is in rehabilitation in Nebraska, lifting weights, working on fine motor skills and doing other therapies so he can get back to teaching math full-time in the fall semester.

Strokes can be life-threatening if proper intervention isn’t received quickly enough, so time is of the essence when it comes to avoiding serious damage. This is why it’s so important that first responders understand the importance of quick intervention and can work with hospitals to get patients the care they need as soon as possible. For this reason, BJC has partnered closely with the St. Charles County Ambulance District (SCCAD) to provide stroke education and establish consistent procedures.

When BJC was initially thrombectomy certified, SCCAD and BJC partnered to host a stroke symposium where BJC staff, and Dr. Eby, talked about the latest advances in stroke treatment. SCCAD has also educated its clinicians on identifying the severity of a stroke via a “stroke scale” so they can discern which facility is best[1]suited to fit the needs of the stroke patient so they get the care they need.

When a first responder arrives at the scene of a stroke, they call a dispatcher over the radio, who then contacts the hospital to let them know somebody is on the way. This happens before the first responders and patient have even moved to the ambulance so that the hospital can begin preparing for the stroke patient.

Upon arriving at the hospital, the patient undergoes a “stroke stop,” in which a clinician does an additional assessment and determines what is right for the patient. This helps determine whether the patient receives medication or if a clinician will perform a thrombectomy.

“The biggest thing we aim to do is improve patient outcomes,” says John Romeo, Deputy Chief of Professional Standards at SCCAD. “BJC becoming a thrombectomy capable center makes it really streamlined for our transport because we are able to get stroke patients world-class care right in St. Charles County. We know our patients are going to get the best care at the best facilities, and what BJC has invested in by developing the thrombectomy lab is outstanding.”

“Patients are now able to get this advanced stroke treatment faster and closer to home, which means higher chances of doing well and possibly saving more lives,” says Dr. Eby. “With this certification, the Joint Commission recognizes we are able to provide advanced stroke care on par with treatments expected at giant or academic hospitals.”

As soon as a stroke occurs, brain cells start to die, which is why it is so important to act fast. The quicker it is treated, the higher chance for little or no permanent damage. The signs of stroke can be remembered using the BE-FAST acronym.

The following symptoms could indicate you are having a stroke and should call 911 to receive immediate treatment:

  • Balance Problems
  • Eyes Blurred or Difficulty Seeing
  • Face Drooping
  • Arm Weakness
  • Speech Slurring
  • Time to Call 911

 

“This is a huge step forward to be recognized for providing the most advanced, life-saving treatment to our St. Charles County and greater St. Louis community,” says Dr. Eby. “The Joint Commission has recognized the immense efforts of Barnes-Jewish St. Peters to provide this groundbreaking treatment. Truthfully, this is more a recognition of the amazing work the entire medical staff has been putting toward the success of the thrombectomy stroke program and the care they give to each patient.”

To learn more about our stroke intervention capabilities, visit BJSPH.org/stroke

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