Country patients who suffer a stroke will be able to receive specialised treatment closer to home at any time of day or night at the state’s three regional stroke services.
Starting this week, clinically suitable patients will be able to access specialist stroke services 24 hours a day, seven days a week at Mount Gambier and Districts Health Service, Riverland General Hospital, Berri, and Whyalla Hospital and Health Service.
Health Minister Peter Malinauskas said this would allow more people to have access to specialised treatment closer to home.
“Prompt transfer to any of the stroke services – either in country SA or metropolitan Adelaide – enables clinical teams to start stroke treatments that limit stroke expansion, prevent stroke recurrence, reduce complications and commence early rehabilitation,” he said.
“Patients experiencing stroke symptoms who are located near Mount Gambier, Berri and Whyalla will be taken directly to the closest stroke service, while patients experiencing stroke symptoms in areas that surround metropolitan Adelaide will continue to be taken directly to one of the three stroke units in Adelaide.”
This service redesign includes improved access to reperfusion therapy and improved clarity of support arrangements between country and metropolitan hospitals ensuring that stroke patients are assessed by expert medical staff sooner, therefore improving outcomes.
Prompt transfer to any stroke service – either in country South Australia or metropolitan Adelaide is essential. The service improvement also involves changes to ambulance protocols in order to fast track access to stroke services for eligible patients.
Medical Services acting executive director David Rosenthal said clinical teams at the regional centres will continue to liaise with the specialist stroke teams in Adelaide for support to undertake timely reperfusion therapy where this can be safely performed, and organise a transfer to Adelaide if further acute treatment is required, for example a clot retrieval.
”The early recognition of a patient with stroke symptoms, using tools such as FAST (Face Arm Speech Time) is vital, and members of the community who suspect someone is suffering stroke symptoms should immediately call 000,” he said.