The New Stroke Treatment Room: It’s a Team Effort


Recently, I had the opportunity to attend the launch of a new stroke treatment room at St. Clare’s Mercy Hospital. It was great to see such a turnout of excited staff and patients. The purpose of this space is to provide care that is specific to the needs of those recovering from a stroke.

The most common cause of stroke is when a blood clot blocks an artery in the brain, slowing or stopping the flow of blood. This lack of oxygen causes damage to brain cells, the effects of which are highly dependent on the part of the brain in which the damage is done. While this can impact people differently, side effects can include weakness, paralysis, difficulty swallowing, problems using language, and cognitive defects.

As a student enrolled in a non-clinical program, I was surprised to learn that nine in 10 Canadians have at least one risk factor for stroke and heart disease. Risk factors include high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol and smoking, all of which occur in higher numbers in Newfoundland and Labrador as compared to other parts of the country.

Within Canada, approximately 62,000 people have a stroke each year. Eleven hundred of those happen here at home. Mary Ann Butt, CEO of the Heart & Stroke Foundation, says the numbers of those who experience stroke in this province are also higher than in any other province in Canada. “It has become increasingly important that we provide immediate care and focus to support stroke survivors in their recovery,” she says. “Only by addressing these needs can we fight back against the devastation of stroke and alleviate the increasing stressors on the system and on caregivers.”

Bev Downey (back), Debbie Walsh (middle), and Charmaine Lane (front)

With around 170 stroke patients admitted to St. Clare’s each year, staff recognized the need for a specialized treatment room and pulled together to make it happen. “This project is a great example of how teamwork can make a difference in patient care,” says Charmaine Lane, division manager 7 west, ambulatory treatment unit and provincial immunodeficiency program. “The enthusiasm of all members of our team helped make this room such a success for the benefit of patients.”

In fact, members of the Medicine Program at St. Clare’s worked together to ensure they could provide their patients with a space that focused on their individual treatment and recovery.

“We’re very excited to be able to provide quality care for our stroke patients by utilizing this new stroke treatment room,” says Debbie Walsh, Regional Director Medicine Program at Eastern Health. “This area will allow for an interdisciplinary collaborative approach for the assessment and treatment of our patients which will enable us to achieve the best possible outcomes.”

The stroke treatment room will allow staff to provide patients with an early introduction into rehabilitation through physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech language pathology, clinical nutrition, social work and nursing. This dedicated space will contribute to improving outcomes for stroke patients in this province.

Members of the Stroke Treatment Room Team at St. Clare’s Mercy Hospital

With its specialized equipment, the room provides privacy and safety for patients as they receive both assessment and treatment. The equipment reduces the risk of injury for both staff and patients. The ultimate goal is to support patients during their recovery.

Tara Bishop, speech language pathologist                 

In recent years, there have been great improvements in the way that the Medicine Program has been able to care for stroke patients. The team focuses on utilizing the Canadian Stroke Best Practice Guidelines. This model centers around public awareness, stroke prevention, management, and rehabilitation.

“Our spirited team frequently engages in activities outside of work to promote team building and heart and stroke awareness,’ adds Ms. Lane. “Over the past several years, they’ve participated in fundraising initiatives that have raised $14,000 for the Heart & Stoke Foundation to support heart and stroke initiatives in our province.

About the Room

Did I mention that the room looks great?  The infrastructure support staff, Glen Peddle, Robert Ryan, Mike Murphy, and Keith St. Croix really took on the challenge. They built a set of easily accessible stairs for patient assessment based on physiotherapy specifications. The room also contains a variety of equipment such as an exercise bike, bars, weights and other assessment, treatment and educational materials.

(l-r): Glen Peddle and Robert Ryan, Infrastructure Support

Keith St. Croix, Infrastructure Support

One of the main pieces of equipment was funded through the Health Care Foundation’s Comfort in Care grants. “This year, grant funding supported the purchase of a treatment plinth for the revitalized unit,” says Paul Snow, President and CEO of the Health Care Foundation. “The plinth is a specially constructed padded table for patients to utilize while undergoing therapy. This piece of equipment will further compliment the outstanding care provided by the staff.”

Heather Sullivan, physiotherapist with the Stroke Treatment Unit

As my time as a communications work term student comes to a close, I realize I’ve learned a lot about health care; not only about how health issues can impact an individual’s life, but more surprisingly, how compassion drives those who work in this field. Being a part of this event brought that realization home to me – how this team, and others I’ve worked with over the last few months, care about the work they do and the reason they do it – for their clients and patients.

It is important to remember that a stroke is very serious and time is of the essence when seeking treatment. Keep in mind the signs of a stroke and act FAST:

Visit Heart and Stroke for more information. 

This story was written by Samantha Grandy, communications cooperative education student.

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