Boone Hospital Center stroke care program awarded certification

Friday, June 26, 2009 | 2:38 p.m. CDT; updated 6:17 p.m. CDT, Friday, June 26, 2009

COLUMBIA — A drug with a nearly unpronounceable name, a tube the size of a spaghetti strand and a sense of urgency set the Boone Hospital Center apart from other hospitals in mid-Missouri.

Boone Hospital Center was awarded on Friday the Gold Seal of Approval from The Joint Commission for Primary Stroke Centers. It is the only hospital in mid-Missouri to receive the certification.

Stroke warning signs and risk factors

Warning signs

  • Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or loss of coordination
  • A sudden, severe, unexplainable headache, often described as "the worst headache of my life"

Risk factors

  • Over 55 years of age
  • Previous stroke
  • Family history of stroke
  • High cholesterol or high blood pressure
  • Heart disease, particularly atrial fibrillation
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Diabetes
  • Carotid artery disease
  • African-American
  • Smoking
  • Obesity
  • Lack of exercise

Related Media

Strokes are the third most common killer of Americans and the leading cause of permanent disability.

“With strokes, minutes lost is brain lost,” said Allyn Sher, the medical director of the stroke center. “If a large artery is blocked, it’s estimated that every minute you wait while you’re trying to unblock it, two million cells are lost.”

That's why signs of a stroke should be acted on as quickly as possible and stroke victims should receive prompt medical attention. “We can’t help people if we can’t get to them,” said Randy Mueller, medical director of emergency medicine at Boone Hospital Center.

One of the hospital's strengths is the care provided at every level of patient interaction, from the emergency room to rehabilitation, Mueller said.

One qualification Boone Hospital Center met for the Gold Seal of Approval is that, on average, it administers tissue plasminogen activator (tPA), a drug that dissolves blood clots, within 50 minutes of a person arriving at the hospital, Sher said. To qualify for the certification, primary stroke centers must administer the drug within one hour of the patient arriving at the hospital.

Boone Hospital Center also uses a Penumbra device to care for stroke victims, said Steve Adams, a spokesman for the hospital.

“It’s (the Penumbra device) a tube about the size of a spaghetti strand, and with the guidance of X-rays of the neck and head, we are able to vacuum out the clot,” said Andrew Getzoff, a Boone Hospital Center neuroradiologist, in a news release.

The hospital also meets requirements in its rehabilitation programs. "We try to get people back to functional daily living," Adams said. Patients are required to get out of bed, eat with other patients, learn how to use a stove, walk and other daily activities.

Richard Smithey, a Shelbina resident who suffered a stroke, said he was happy with his experience at Boone Hospital Center.

“They got me living again,” Smithey said. “I’m not paralyzed and I can walk pretty good now. I would just like to thank the doctors and nurses.”

And that's the real reward, Sher said, “...when you see a patient who was paralyzed leave the hospital walking.” 

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