Better care for stroke patients at Tauranga Hospital

One acute unit allows the full clinical benefit for patients.Dr Elizabeth SpellacyAn Acute Stroke Unit will be launched at Tauranga Hospital this month, in a bid to provide better care for stroke victims.

Following a national audit of stroke services, the Ministry of Health recommended each district health board (DHB) develop organised acute stroke services as a matter of urgency.

Dr Elizabeth Spellacy, consultant physician for older people at Tauranga Hospital, said there had been a lot of preparation work done to develop the unit in recent years.

"One acute unit allows the full clinical benefit for patients - from the onset of the stroke and treatment in hospital, through to ongoing neuro-rehabilitation to reduce the impact of the stroke," she said.

"The pathway extends through to reintegration into as normal a life as is achievable for that person, with the best possible prevention of further attacks."

Stroke is New Zealand's third leading cause of death, after heart disease and cancer.

It is also a major

cause of long term adult disability. But it can be prevented and treated if risk factors or symptoms are detected early.

Professor Mohan Datta-Chaudhuri, lead physician for stroke at Tauranga Hospital, said people needed to know the signs someone had experienced a stroke.

"Has their face fallen on one side? Can they smile? Can they raise both arms and keep them there? Is their speech abnormal? If people see any single one of these signs it is vital they call 111 immediately," he said.

Prof Datta-Chaudhuri said the unit would see Western Bay residents receive better quality of care and achieve good health outcomes following a stroke.

"It is not unique but we are one of the many DHBs who have taken the Ministry of Health directive for stroke ... care with enthusiasm," he said.

Consultant physician Dr Nicola Cooper said there was more medical evidence regarding the effectiveness of Acute Stroke Units than there was for Coronary Care Units.

Research showed patients admitted to a stroke unit were significantly less likely to die, and significantly more likely to be independent and living at home following a stroke. Their length of stay in hospital was also reduced.

The unit is due to open on January 21.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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