Monday 24 October 2022: Bermuda Hospitals Board (BHB) urges the public to learn the signs and symptoms of stroke. Saturday 29 October is World Stroke Day, and this week BHB’s Primary Stroke Centre team wants to increase community awareness of this condition, which is on the rise in Bermuda.
“Every second counts when treating someone who is experiencing a stroke,” said BHB consultant neurologist Dr Kehinde Kolapo. “We really need everyone on the island to recognise when someone is having a stroke, and to get them to the hospital right away.
“BE FAST. These two words can really help everyone remember the symptoms.
“B is for balance. People who become dizzy or lose their sense of balance could be experiencing a stroke.
“E is for eyes. A stroke may cause sudden blurred vision.
“F is for face. If one side of the face starts to droop, it could signify a stroke.
“A is for arms. Sudden weakness in an arm, or a leg, is another symptom of stroke.
“S is for speech. Those experiencing a stroke may have slurred or unintelligible speech, or they may not be able to speak.
“T is for time, which means you need to get the person to the Emergency Department as soon as possible.”
“There are some types of stroke for which we can administer a drug that bursts the blood clot, effectively ending the stroke,” said Dr Kolapo, “but there is a very short window of time in which it is safe to do this.”
BHB’s Primary Stroke Centre attained distinction certification from Accreditation Canada in April for its acute stroke and inpatient rehabilitation service standards. Its committed team of professionals is passionate about not only providing the best care to patients, but also decreasing the number of people who experience strokes.
“We are tackling prevention by educating the public,” said VP KEMH Clinical Operations Sita Ingram, a member of the Primary Stroke Centre Working Group. “BE FAST is the message we need every resident to know and adhere to.
“Free wallet-sized BE FAST cards are available this week at the Bermuda Diabetes Association, and the reception desks at King Edward VII Memorial Hospital and the Mid-Atlantic Wellness Institute.”
Chief of Staff Dr Wesley Miller said: “We also draw the public’s attention to the full Accreditation Canada report on the Primary Stroke Centre’s distinction certification. It is available on our website at bermudahospitals.bm.”
Accreditation Canada conducted an onsite survey at BHB from 28 February to 3 March 2022, interviewing staff, stroke patients, their families and Primary Stroke Centre partner organisations.
BHB CEO and President Dr Michael Richmond said: “Stroke distinction certification is the highest commendation a stroke centre can receive in the Accreditation Canada system, and this aligns with BHB’s vision to pursue excellence through improvement, to make Bermuda proud.”
The Accreditation Canada Stroke Distinction surveyors highlighted the areas below in their report as examples of successes within BHB Primary Stroke Centre services:
- leadership and organisation support
- knowledgeable and committed staff
- collaboration with Johns Hopkins Medicine International (JHMI)
- alignment of the integrated stroke programme plan with the organisation’s strategic plan
- community partnerships
- communication and promotion of the stroke programme
Primary Stroke Centre History
Recognising in 2018 that strokes had become an epidemic on the island, BHB took steps to address the problem. In July 2019, BHB launched its Primary Stroke Centre, part of a clinical affiliation with Johns Hopkins Medicine International. Since that time, stroke patient outcomes have significantly improved in Bermuda, due to a more clearly defined process for managing stroke patients, together with a robust national campaign highlighting the signs and symptoms of stroke and the importance of attending the hospital immediately.
At its peak, 14% of those who experienced a stroke were able to receive a clot-busting drug that increased their chances of fully recovering. Not all stroke patients are eligible to receive the drug.
In 2021, then Primary Stroke Centre Director Dr Francene Gayle said: “This figure is impressive and is almost double the 7% average of primary stroke centres in the US.”
BHB’s Primary Stroke Centre also made history with its first trans-oceanic mechanical thrombectomy case. In this instance, a local patient with a major blockage in a major artery of the brain was diagnosed and airlifted to The Johns Hopkins Hospital within 17 hours. The patient received lifesaving thrombectomy surgery and is likely the first in the world to have experienced the trans-oceanic service.