The Stroke Center at MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center saves lives every day. According to the American Stroke Association, “a stroke occurs when a blood vessel that carries oxygen and nutrients to the brain is either blocked by a clot or bursts.” The part of the brain fed by that blood vessel can no longer get the oxygen it needs, and the cells begin to die as a result. If a person having a stroke receives rapid treatment, that individual stands a good chance of recovering. But time lost is brain lost.
Stopping Stroke in its Tracks
Our center is equipped to respond quickly and effectively to an evolving stroke. When a patient with a possible stroke comes in, the emergency department physician activates the stroke team and begins a battery of tests that will determine the patient’s course of treatment. Our team, which will work with patients from the ER through rehabilitation, conducts CT scans, x-rays, EKGs, blood tests, and neurological exams within minutes to assess what type of stroke is occurring and what treatment options are available. Patients are admitted directly into our center from the emergency department in order to receive treatment as soon as possible.
Recovery and Rehabilitation
Quick intervention in a stroke can save a life, but long-term rehabilitation can give many victims back their quality of life as well. The Stroke Center’s staff includes occupational therapists, physical therapists, and case managers who provide guidance and encouragement to help the patients “retrain the brain.” Therapy is available on an inpatient and outpatient basis and is customized to each individual’s needs. MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center is proud to be the region’s first designated primary stroke center. The Maryland Institute for Emergency Medical Services Systems (MIEMSS) granted the hospital primary stroke center status in recognition of our team’s extensive training and expertise in the immediate and long-term treatment of stroke victims.
Awards and Honors
MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center was honored with the American Heart Association’s Gold Plus Quality Achievement Award and named to AHA’s Stroke Honor Roll for the “Get With The Guidelines”- stroke program. To qualify for the Gold Plus award, the Stroke Center met specific quality achievement measures for the diagnosis and treatment of patients at a set level for two consecutive 12-month periods. These measures include aggressive use of medications and risk-reduction therapies aimed at reducing death and disability and improving the lives of patients.
The hospital also earned a spot on Target: Stroke Honor Roll by implementing quality measures that reduce the time between hospital arrival and treatment with the clot-busting medication tPA. If tPA is administered within three hours of the onset of stroke symptoms, patients have a better chance of recovery and are less likely to suffer severe disability. This is the second year in a row that the Stroke Center has received this award.
Ranked among the top 10 stroke programs in Maryland, MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital’s Stroke Center has a long history of award-winning performance in stroke care. It was the first in Southern Maryland to be certified as a Primary Stroke Center by the state of Maryland, and it remains the only certified Primary Stroke Center in Prince George’s County. Last year, the Stroke Center earned the AHA’s Silver Plus Achievement Award and Target: Stroke Honor Roll, one of only four hospitals in Maryland to earn this distinction.
If you think you or a loved one may be having a stroke, do not wait. Call 911 right away. A stroke happens when blood flow to part of the brain is cut off because a blood vessel becomes blocked or bursts. According to the American Stroke Association, stroke is the leading cause of long-term disability in the United States and the third leading cause of death. The Maryland Stroke Alliance encourages everyone to know the warning signs of stroke. These vary according to the part of the brain being affected but can include:
- Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body
- Sudden confusion, trouble speaking, or difficulty understanding speech
- Sudden vision problems in one or both eyes
- Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, or loss of balance/coordination
- A sudden, severe headache
If you suspect that a loved one may be having a stroke, conduct the “Be F.A.S.T.” quick check:
F- Face: Ask the person to smile. Does the face droop?
A- Arm: Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
S- Speech: Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Does the speech sound slurred or strange?
T- Time: If you observe any of these signs, then it's time to call 911.
Stroke is an emergency and the leading cause of disability in the United States. Get treatment. Call 911.
Meet Our Specialists
Aabha Shah, MD (left)
Medical Director of Stroke Services, MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center
Assistant Professor of Neurology, MedStar Georgetown University Hospital
Anne Constantino, MD (right)
Neurologist, MedStar Georgetown University Hospital, based at MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center