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'Time is brain' in stroke treatment

Ellen Abbott/WRVO
The trauma room in Upstate Hospital's emergency department

Upstate University Hospital has won a “comprehensive stroke center” designation by a national health care accrediting agency. But what does that mean for central New York stroke victims?

Catherine Stephens, the administrator of the Upstate Stroke Center, likes to say “time is brain” when emphasizing how important it is for stroke victims to get fast treatment. So as soon as Upstate is alerted of a patient with a possible stroke, the team goes into action.

“We start the clock at the time the patient hits the door. And then we just have a few minutes to get everything done -- 10 minutes to a physician evaluation; 20 minutes to CAT scan; 45 minutes for it to be read,” said Stephens. “So those are all the things in getting 60 minutes door to needle time for IV tPA, which is the one FDA approved medication for ischemic stroke.”

She says quick administration of that clot-busting medicine can be remarkable in terms of recovery from a stroke.  The reason Upstate gets the designation as a comprehensive stroke center, is that the hospital provides a high standard of care from the emergency room to rehabilitation on the premises. The only other hospital in the state to get the designation is in Buffalo.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.