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SSM Health St. Francis Hospital Aims for Level III Stroke Certification, One Patient Shares his Story


​It had been a normal day at the office for Bob Loch of Maryville on that October day, when suddenly things changed.  

"I was walking across the parking lot and it hit me," said Bob. "My visi
on got blurry and I could hardly walk."

Bob's wife, Millie, and son, Rob, immediately took Bob to the emergency department at SSM Health St. Francis Hospital. They were met by em​​​​​ergency department physician Dr. Thomas Carter and a team of nurses who knew right away that Bob was in the process of having a stroke. Millie said it was frightening, but she wasn't scared once they got to the hospital.

Dr. Carter and Bob Lochs"They were absolutely wonderful," said Millie. "It was evident that everyone knew what they were doing and what needed to be done. They were on top of everything."

Dr. Carter ordered the necessary tests, all while being in contact with the receiving comprehensive stroke center in Kansas City. The tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) drug was administered immediately, which is a crucial step for stroke victims to minimize long-term effects and prevent death. If tPA is administered within three hours from the start of symptoms, it greatly improves the chances of recovery.

The helicopter to transport Bob arrived within 15 minu
tes, and he was at the stroke center within 45 minutes.

Bob has made a fantastic recovery. His vision is back to normal, and he has been released to return to normal activities.

The Emergency Department at SSM Health St. Francis Hospital is committed to responding to every emergency situation. And although Bob is just one of hundreds of stroke patients that has received the care and treatment of experienced emergency professionals, they plan to validate that care with a Level III Stroke Center certification in 2016.

The Level III certification will ensure that when a patient comes through the emergency department doors and is diagnosed as stroke in progress, a glucose test is to be completed in the first five minutes, a CT performed with results back, the tPA clot buster administered, if appropriate, and transportation is facilitated to a comprehensive center where a neurosurgeon is available all within the shortest amount of time possible.

"We know that time is of the essence, particularly for stroke victims," said Dr. Terry Symonds, medical director of the emergency department.

 The staff at SSM Health St. Francis performs all of these steps (as you can tell by Bob's story) but the certification will assure that all departments involved with stroke care will move quickly and work together efficiently.

In addition, the ED will undergo a complete renovation in 2016. The project focuses on improving patient experience by adding two rooms and creating all private rooms.

"The remodel is just one of the many ways the hospital is working to better meet the health care needs of our community," Dr. Symonds said.​​