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New coordinated care for stroke patients

Media information
For immediate release

Date: 28 May 2008

New coordinated care for stroke patients at Waikato Hospital

Stroke victims will now have world-class coordinated care through
Waikato Hospital, thanks to a new Organised Stroke Service introduced at
the hospital this week.

The aim is to be proactive in early diagnosis of people presenting at
their GP, St John Ambulance or at Waikato Hospital emergency department
with symptoms of stroke or trans ischaemic attacks (TIAs).

Raising public awareness of the emergency nature of stroke and TIA
symptoms is a priority for the service.

"Patients should be brought to the emergency department without delay
so we can improve outcomes. If someone thinks they are having a stroke
they should tell the emergency department triage nurse straight away,"
says clinical director Dr Peter Wright.

The service will then coordinate the patient's journey from when they
enter the hospital, through the acute stroke unit/inpatient wards, to
discharge home with supports or to the hospital rehabilitation service.

Waikato DHB has invested $229,000 for the last two months of the
current financial year to establish the service, which will be phased in
over several months. Ongoing funding of more than $900,000 annually will
ensure the seven days a week service can be fully resourced.

Dr Wright says the service brings together nursing, allied health and
medical staff from both acute and rehabilitation services. "It's
about working to get the best outcome for each stroke patient, bringing
all the resources we have to ensure they get the best care.

"As a result we expect fewer deaths from stroke or TIAs, reduction in
the length of time people have to stay in hospital, and the ability to
treat most TIA patients as day-stay cases," he says. "We aim to
avoid about 20 strokes that would otherwise followed a TIA, and markedly
reduce death and disability rates after a stroke."

The service will have its own staff and 18 beds for stroke patients,
eight for acute patient care and 10 for rehabilitation care.

The Waikato DHB region has an ageing population. Over the next 10
years, there will be a 40 per cent increase those aged more than 65
years of age. Research indicates that the mean age for first ever
stroke being 74.6 years for New Zealand Europeans but only 61.9 for
Maori, so the Organised Stroke Service will be a key part of the Waikato
DHB's response to the needs of older Maori.


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