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Stroke System of Care Act Passes in Washington DC

 

 

 

 

 

 

We are happy to announce the Stroke System of Care Act became official law in Washington, DC on March 10, 2015! This important law establishes a coordinated system of care for stroke patients by:

   !!!   Recognizing three tiers of stroke facilities – Comprehensive, Primary, and Acute Stroke Ready

   !!!   Requiring EMS authorities to develop and implement transport protocols for acute stroke patients

   !!!   Requiring creation of a centralized stroke registry where all facilities will report data

Stroke is one of the leading causes of death and disability in DC. While not all strokes are the same, they do have one thing in common: the race against time. The moment a stroke hits, the clock starts. Each minute a stroke patient is left untreated, two million brain cells die. This destruction of brain cells contributes to disability including paralysis, memory loss, vision and speech impairment, and sometimes death.

Since every stroke patient is different, it’s essential that government, hospitals, and emergency responders work together to coordinate care. Pre-hospital care protocols including assessment, treatment, and transport of stroke patients, will be implemented to ensure patients are taken to the hospital with the best available care, not necessarily the closest. In doing this, stroke patients will receive the best care at the right hospital. A registry will be established to evaluate care, enhance quality, and improve outcomes.

The American Heart Association thanks hundreds of its You’re the Cure advocates for working so hard to make this law happen. Special thanks to Dr. Amie Hsia, Dr. Richard Benson, and Survivor Lori Greene.

The American Heart Association supports policies that improve health and wellness in Washington, DC.   Learn more about advocating with You’re the Cure and how you can make a real difference.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

<Thanks to YTC intern Kassie Crook for development of this blog post>

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Help Protect Stroke Survivor's Therapy

After surviving a stroke, the last thing anyone needs to worry about is running out of therapy sessions. Stroke is our nation’s No. 5 cause of death and a leading cause of disability and dementia. Therapy services provide stroke survivors with the ability to regain vital skills like walking and talking, preventing falls, and living as independently as possible. Limiting access to such beneficial care does not make sense.

But that is just what Medicare’s current limits on outpatient therapy do. Unfortunately, if Congress does not act by March 31st, stroke survivors and others on Medicare with the most serious and debilitating conditions will face a cap on their outpatient therapy.

But our lawmakers can prevent this from happening.  Will you contact your lawmaker and ask them to repeal these harmful caps?

So what are therapy caps?

Therapy caps are unfair coverage limits placed on the rehabilitation stroke survivors need to recover and thrive following a stroke. A typical Medicare beneficiary would face a $1940 cap on their outpatient therapy care, with no exceptions.  On average, that amounts to a single evaluation and just 19 outpatient therapy sessions. However, stroke survivors often need 3-5 therapy sessions a week, which means they’d reach the caps in less than two months.

I am sure you agree stroke survivors deserve better.

Take a moment and contact your lawmaker today and ask them to remove these harmful caps once and for all.

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Friendly Reminder: Nevada Lobby Day is March 31st Register Today

During this busy time of the year, I wanted to friendly remind you that Nevada’s Lobby Day is around the corner on March 31st! Can we count on you to be there?

Registration is free, but space is limited, so register today!

At the event, advocates from across the state will gather at the Capitol in Carson City to lobby for heart healthy legislation.  This legislation includes legislation to improve Stroke systems of care, support for CPR in Schools and many other health related issues. No advocacy experience is necessary; training will be provided. It promises to be an exciting day of advocacy. We hope you’ll join us!

For more information on our legislative priorities or ways to get involved, please contact Ben Schmauss or Josh Brown.

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Bill to Improve Stroke Care in KY Has Passed!

What if a bill could make the difference between life and death or between ability and disability for Kentucky's stroke victims? It can. Senate Bill 10 would ensure Kentucky's stroke victims get the fast treatment they need for the best chance at a full recovery and, thanks to your outreach to lawmakers, was just passed by the legislature!

Kentucky is part of the stroke belt and has higher rates of strokes than many other states. The law will continue the development of a stroke system of care in Kentucky that adds comprehensive stroke centers and acute stroke ready hospitals to the state’s existing Primary Stroke Center designation program.

Timely access to a hospital that has the systems in place to provide this specialty care can often make the difference for stroke victims and their loved ones. Thanks to quick passage of Senate Bill 10 this session, stroke victims in the Commonwealth will have the best chance for quick treatment and a full recovery.

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Cutting Funding for Tobacco Prevention is a Step Backwards

Despite the historic successes of Vermont’s tobacco control program, tobacco use is still the number one preventable cause of death and disease. While we’ve made great headway, there is more work that needs to be done and the program is at risk. 

The Governor’s proposed budget would cut nearly $245,000 this coming year, reducing funds to the health department and eliminating funding for the independent Tobacco Evaluation and Review Board. 

This cut in prevention funding will only move Vermont backwards in the state’s efforts to control skyrocketing healthcare costs. Vermont currently spends $348 million each year on tobacco-attributable health care expenses.

Tobacco use still claims the lives of 1,000 Vermonters annually.  400 children become new daily smokers each year and 10,000 Vermont children currently alive today will die prematurely from smoking. We have populations where smoking rates are high – over 20% of Vermont’s college-age youth smoke and smoking rates for those with low incomes or serious mental illness are at or above 30%.

Help us urge Vermont lawmakers and the Governor to maintain funding for the tobacco program to reduce these numbers and support a significant increase in the tobacco tax – proven measures that will reduce smoking in Vermont. Click the link below to take action today!

https://yourethecure.org/aha/advocacy/actioncenter.aspx

 

 

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Diana Cook, North Carolina

Diana Cook, North Carolina

As a veteran volunteer with the American Heart Association, Diana Cook has been involved in a myriad of ways with the organization over the years. As a Charlotte Heart Walk team leader, she led her work team several years in a row – and every year provided countless volunteers to help with the walk. As a You’re the Cure Advocate, and as a NC Advocacy Coordinating Committee member, she has volunteered for countless National and State Lobby Days, trainings, and advocacy opportunities.

There is more to Diana than just her volunteerism. She has experience personal loss at the hands of cardiovascular disease and stroke. After losing her father to emphysema, then a dear friend who had just turned 40 passed away due to a sudden stroke two weeks later, she spent a long time of wondering why her friend’s symptoms had gone misdiagnosed. Diana connected with Betsy Vetter and found her passion with AHA and a home with You’re the Cure. As her work with YTC began, Diana was able to join the Smoke-Free Mecklenburg team as a co-chair, and worked with that initiative promoting smoke-free both locally and then at the state level. It was her friend, and her father, who kept Diana engaged with the American Heart Association and kept her inspired to make a difference.

If you were to ask Diana why she volunteers with the AHA, she would tell you that beginning with her Heart Walk experience and including her time as an advocate with You’re the Cure, her experience has become personal. "Advocacy was the "rescue," if you will, that I needed during a traumatic time after my Dad and best friend died," she says. "It helped me to put my energy into something positive that honored them at the same time.  The experience was effecting a positive change for our state of North Carolina to get smoke free restaurants passed and providing vital information to women on heart and stroke disease."

It is advocates like Diana, who join us in You’re the Cure and see what an infinite difference they make in the lives of those around them, that make our network as strong and as passionate as it is. Thank you to Diana, and to all of our advocates, for making a difference and saving lives.

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Join Us for PA Advocacy Day!

Make plans to join us on Monday, April 20th as we gather at the State Capitol in Harrisburg, PA to meet with lawmakers to talk about important public policies to help reverse the effects of cardiovascular disease and stroke. Advocates from across PA will meet with their legislators to advocate support for strengthening the Clean Indoor Air law to include NO exemptions and reducing smoking rates by increasing the tobacco excise tax. We'll give you the tools and the resources - all you have to do is show up! 

REGISTER HERE

We will host two half hour conference calls to allow all participants to learn the priority issues, logistics for the event, and tips on talking to legislators. There will be two call options – you need only attend one.  Dial-in information will be e-mailed to attendees.

Call Options:
Tuesday, April 14, 2015, 2015 at Noon
Thursday, April 16, 2015 at Noon

Schedule of Events

8:30-9:00am:            Registration  (Continental Breakfast available from 8-9am)
9:00-10:00am:          Issue Briefings
10:00-10:20am:        Press Conference (Main Rotunda)
10:20-10:30am:        Group Photo (Main Rotunda Steps)
10:30am-12:00pm:   Legislative Meetings (Member Offices)

Directions to the PA State Capitol

Downtown Harrisburg Parking (Walnut Street Garage is recommended for parking)

If you would like additional information or have questions, please contact:

Kim Ross at (717) 730-1706 or kim.ross@heart.org

David Greineder at (717) 730-1751 or david.greineder@heart.org

Melissa Brown at melissa.brown@heart.org 

 

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When The Surgeon General Comes To Town…

A special thanks to our guest writer, Dr.Sandra Burke of Charlotte, for her contributions to this story!

Recently, the American Heart Association in the Greater Charlotte Region had an excellent opportunity to share its Health Priorities with the newly named U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murthy. Dr. Murthy is undertaking a nationwide listening tour to determine first-hand how his office can best address public health issues, based on initiatives that are currently working effectively in local communities.  Key representatives from healthcare organizations across the region gathered at Care Ring (formerly Community Health Services) in Charlotte to participate in this 2-hour forum.  In his introductory remarks, Dr. Murthy stressed the importance of working together and sharing best practices, and feels that the most effective way to achieve this goal is to hear how organizations are making an impact on public health challenges they face in their communities.  

Dr. Murthy asked each of the nearly than 30 attendees to speak for 2 minutes, and to share how each organization was working to impact public health.  Dr. Sandra Burke, a member of the Greater Charlotte Board of Directors, represented the AHA during this session, and provided an overview of the key issues that resulted from our recent Community Assessment process.  She discussed the two specific areas where our board members and AHA staff feel we might make the biggest impact.  These include our efforts to strengthen tobacco control in North Carolina by protecting the state’s smoke-free law from efforts to weaken it, increasing excise taxes on cigarettes and other tobacco products and restoring funding to tobacco use and prevention and cessation programs.  She also discussed our focus on improving worksite wellness by changing procurement policies at both the local and state levels and providing healthy vending and food service initiatives.  Finally, she touched on our efforts to increase access to healthy foods through healthy corner store initiatives, and of particular importance, the efforts to ensure that all North Carolinians have access to health care by expanding Medicaid.

The latter effort was stressed by a number of participants in the forum, including Madison Hardee, a staff attorney from Legal Services of the Southern Piedmont, who discussed the fact that one of their biggest challenges is the fact that NC has still not expanded Medicaid.  Similar sentiments were expressed by Dr. Steven Keener, Medical Director for Mecklenburg County, who participated on behalf of Dr. Marcus Plescia, County Health Director.  In response to Dr. Murthy’s emphasis on the importance of coalitions to impact healthcare across communities, Ms. Hardee described a coalition of organizations called Get Covered Mecklenburg, which provides outreach to low income families that need access to affordable health care.  Krsiten Wade, Assistant VP of Clinical Services at Carolina Healthcare System, provided input on MedLink of Mecklenburg, a collaboration of healthcare providers with community clinics embedded in neighborhoods to deliver a variety of services to diverse populations who might otherwise have issues with transportation in seeking healthcare.  Another interesting and important approach was described by Ed Connors, CEO of Heudia Health, who has received a small business innovative research grant from the Department of Agriculture to develop a technology to address community healthcare.  Launched in Lenoir County, NC and piloted in Charlotte with Dr. Michael Dulin, a primary care physician at Carolinas Healthcare System, Heudia Health uses a mobile navigator to assist people in finding healthcare services when they have barriers, including lack of adequate insurance, and limited knowledge regarding how to seek healthcare. 

Overall, the forum was an impactful session that allowed not only Dr. Murthy and his staff to hear about local community health efforts, but enabled those interested in improving health of all citizens to hear of other innovative solutions currently underway around the region.  We were privileged to be a part of that process!

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Stroke Center Designation Rules Approved!

On January 15, 2015 the NC Rules Review Commission approved new stroke center designation rules by unanimous vote.  These rules were developed as the result of Session Law 2013-44 Designate Primary Stroke Centers that was signed into law on May 8, 2013.  The rules include designation for acute stroke ready hospitals, primary stroke centers and comprehensive stroke centers.

The NC Stroke Advisory Council and You’re the Cure advocates worked together with the Department of Health Service Regulation and Office of Emergency Services to develop the rule language.  As a result of a great team effort the rules were perfected and presented to the Rules Review Commission for approval on January 15, 2015 where they were unanimously approved. 

Peg O’Connell, Vice-Chair of the NC Stroke Advisory Council, member of the NC AHA Advocacy Coordinating Council and You’re the Cure member stated, “Six years ago, I lost my dear husband and our Insurance Commissioner Jim Long to a severe stroke.  I know what it means to lose someone you love in such a sudden and tragic way, but we were fortunate because when Jim's stroke occurred, we knew what to do and where to go.  Everyone in our state needs to have this knowledge.

It has been a journey in North Carolina to build strong stroke systems of care.  Many people have come together to ensure that all North Carolinians, regardless of location can access quality acute stroke care and I was proud to be part of that effort.  These rules are a critical part of our state’s stroke system of care and inform both EMS and the public where stroke centers are located in the state.”

North Carolina already required EMS authorities to have transport protocol plans and procedures and now with the addition of designating all three tiers of stroke centers became the second state in the country to take this step in establishing strong stroke systems of care.

Many thanks to all the You’re the Cure advocates that supported this effort.  You are making a difference!

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