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SE Health stroke center working to bridge the great health divide

The center has about a 150 mile radius for stroke patients and sees about 1,400 stroke patients a year.
Updated: May. 25, 2021 at 6:26 PM CDT
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DOTHAN, Ala. (WTVY) - Southeast Health is the only DNV Comprehensive Stroke Center in the state of Alabama. The center has about a 150 mile radius for stroke patients and sees about 1,400 stroke patients a year.

The center cares for patients not only in Alabama, but in Florida and Georgia as well. Some patients are forced to travel miles and miles away from home to get to the facility to receive the full care they need.

In regards to Neuroendovascular lab cases, in 2018 they had 262 cases, but that number nearly tripled in 2019 when they had 559 cases.

The facilities 2020 numbers were lower due to the pandemic and ICU beds being occupied for COVID-19 patients. However, last year they cared for 392 cases, which is still higher than 2018′s numbers.

“We historical are the busiest center in the state of Alabama as far as stroke interventions and stroke patients that we see on a day-to-day basis,” Dr. Josh Bentley DO, neurosurgeon, said.

Southeast Health is one of only three comprehensive stroke centers in the state of Alabama.

“We are able to offer the full gamut of neurosurgical care as well as stroke intervention,” Dr. Bentley said.

Stroke symptoms include paralysis on one side of the body, slurring of speech, dizziness or blurriness.

“A sudden onset of those symptoms are signs of strokes and you should go to the emergency department as soon as possible,” Dr. Bentley said.

Time is crucial for stroke patients, according to Dr. Bentley. A patient has a time frame of about three to four and a half hours to receive care once they start experiencing symptoms, which can be a challenge for those having to travel an hour away.

“If you wait too long then that’s when the damage can be done and it could be too late for us to do anything to help you out,” Dr. Bentley said.

Dr. Bentley said stroke patients require a very large team of care, from the time EMS is called to deciding what interventions are most appropriate for the patient.

“Then we start rolling over to the other providers that really provide care from our ICU nurses, our floor nurses, our physical therapists and even our rehab doctors,” Dr. Bentley said.

Depending on the severity, it can be a slow recovery process but Dr. Bentley said the team works together for the patient every step of the way.

“A lot of that recovery we see during that first six months, but it comes in years and years down the road as they continue to rehabilitate these patients so they can get stronger and stronger and get back to as much of a normal life as possible,” Dr. Bentley said.

Mizell Hospital, Troy Regional Medical Center and Dale Medical Center are also networked with Southeast Health to care for stroke patients and provide that care to them.

Each month News 4 will take a closer look at bridging the great health care divide. Our next focus will be on food insecurities here in the Wiregrass.

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