During a stroke, 2 million brain cells die each minute and blood flow to the brain is blocked. When it comes to a heart attack, every minute without blood flow causes irreversible damage to the heart muscle. Getting to the emergency department immediately following a trauma is critical.
That’s why a new designation by the state of Missouri is so important for families in Clay County and beyond. In March, Missouri’s Time Critical Diagnosis System named Liberty Hospital a Level II Stroke Center, joining its Level II designations for STEMI (heart attack) and trauma. Ambulances that previously may have transported Northland patients south of the river now will stay in the Northland, providing more timely treatment for patients.
“Liberty is the only hospital in the Northland to receive the designation in all three specialties: heart attack, stroke and trauma, and we’re really proud of that,” said Dr. John Owen, vice president of emergency services for Liberty Hospital. “Patients and their families will truly benefit, because having to drive even a few more minutes down the road can make a big difference in a patient’s outcome.”
To achieve the Level II designation, hospitals must meet strict guidelines and demonstrate a high level of proficiency and care for high volumes of trauma, stroke and heart attack patients within a region. The hospital also must have specially trained staff available 24 hours a day to provide treatment for medical emergencies.
“This designation for TCD shows Liberty Hospital’s commitment to providing high-quality care,” said LaTosha Rains, STEMI program manager for Liberty Hospital. “Working hard to achieve this designation was the right thing to do for our community. It allows patients and their families to receive treatment closer to home.”
According to the state, all Level II centers must have a manager for their programs. However, rather than selecting just one person for the job, Liberty Hospital named individual managers for each specialty, allowing them to concentrate their expertise and focus on growing those programs.
“The three of us come together to make one really dynamic TCD team,” said Courtney Gooding, stroke program manager for Liberty Hospital.
Carolyn Wells, trauma program manager, rounds out the TCD team with Rains and Gooding.
“People need to know the importance of seeking medical treatment immediately for a stroke, trauma or heart attack,” said Gooding. “For example, a few minutes saved can make the difference between whether you’ll be able to use your arm again following a stroke. Time is vital.”