From the Dakotas to northern Wyoming, St. Vincent Healthcare in Billings serves more than just the state of Montana. With recent advancements in technology and specialty programs at St. Vincent, people in our region no longer have to fly to larger medical centers in Seattle or Denver to receive world-class specialty medical care. This is life altering to many in the area – especially for stroke patients.
It used to be that if someone had a stroke in Montana, they might have to take an air ambulance to a neighboring state to get the care they needed. Not only was this expensive, but it created a serious barrier to fast and efficient care when time matters most.
This all changed with the recent launch of the state’s first full-time interventional stroke program at St. Vincent Healthcare in Billings. As a result, most stroke patients are now able to stay in-state to receive life-saving treatment.
“This is a game-changer for stroke treatment in Montana,” said Dustin Strandell, Senior Director of Service Lines at St. Vincent. “With this program, we can treat patients up to 24 hours after they had a stroke, and they won’t have to be flown to a facility out-of-state.”
The need to B.E. F.A.S.T
A stroke occurs when the blood supply to part of the brain is interrupted by a clot. This interruption causes brain cells to go without oxygen. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, every 40 seconds someone in the United States has a stroke. For these patients, time is of the essence, and immediate medical attention is crucial to ensuring survival and recovery.
“Up until now, the standard of care available for stroke patients at St. Vincent has consisted of timely diagnosis and the administration of blood-clot-busting medication in hopes of clearing a blockage in the patient’s brain,” explained Dr. Ali Kerro, Stroke Neurologist with the St. Vincent Stroke Program. “We have a small window of time — usually only a few hours — after the stroke has occurred for this method to be a viable option for the patient.”
In instances where too much time had passed or the medication didn’t work as hoped, patients had to be transported out-of-state to receive the interventional treatment they needed. Now, that life-saving treatment can take place at St. Vincent.
Improving access to brain and spine treatment
“The ability to keep patients at St. Vincent and save time when it is most crucial are the two best reasons to celebrate the launch of this new program,” said Strandell. “The new interventional
stroke program reflects a team effort from not only our neuroscience team but also the entire hospital and our community partners to ensure the health and safety of our patients.”
The St. Vincent Neuroscience Center is well-known for providing comprehensive medical services to treat various disorders affecting the brain and spine, such as multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, brain tumors, migraines and epilepsy. By partnering with experts in the field of stroke management, St. Vincent can now add interventional stroke treatment to its long list of services that keep patients close to home.
“This program will complement other services in the neuroscience department,” said Strandell. “These techniques work hand-in-hand and will be beneficial to those who have had a stroke, an aneurysm or other disorders we are already treating in our center. This is a much-needed service in Montana and we are proud to provide our region with this treatment option.”
For more information about the interventional stroke program, call 406-237-5577 or visit sclhealth.org. Those at other healthcare facilities wishing to access the interventional stroke program can call 800-331-0222.
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