Hagerstown Stroke Center

A Certified Primary Stroke Center Since 2007

Each year, more than 600 patients arrive in Meritus Medical Center's emergency department with signs and symptoms of stroke. Because "time is brain," stroke patients require rapid assessment, immediate intervention, and careful management involving physicians, nurses, laboratory, radiology technicians and rehabilitation therapists. Since 2007, Meritus Medical Center has been certified as a Primary Stroke Center by the Maryland Institute for Emergency Medical Services Systems (MIEMSS). The designation means that EMS will bring patients who are within a 30-minute drive and who have stroke symptoms to Meritus Medical Center rather than taking them to a closer, non-certified health care hospital.

Stroke

  • Someone in the US has a stroke every 40 seconds on average.
  • In 2016, stroke accounted for about 1 of every 19 deaths in the US.
  • On average in 2016, someone died of stroke every 3 minutes 42 seconds.
  • When considered separately from other cardiovascular diseases, stroke ranks No. 5 among all causes of death in the US, killing approximately 142,000 people a year.

Recognizing Stroke Symptoms

A Stroke occurs when a blockage (blood clot) or burst blood vessel (hemorrhage) interrupts blood flow to the brain. Within minutes, brain cells begin to die because they lack oxygen and nutrients. People that experience stroke symptoms need to get to the hospital immediately by EMS transport to be evaluated and treated. The clot-busting medication is called Alteplase, and is a form of tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) is appropriate for some ischemic stroke patients, but must be given within three hours from stroke symptoms onset.

Many people don't recognize stroke symptoms. Others fail to take the symptoms seriously or seek medical attention promptly. Sudden onset is a telltale sign of stroke. Call 911 right away if you or someone you know suddenly experiences:

  • Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg—especially on one side of the body
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause

Brief periods of stroke-like symptoms that may resolve quickly are characteristic of Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA) or "mini-stroke." TIA can be an early warning sign of impending stroke, and should not be ignored. TIA is an emergency; call 911 immediately and get to the hospital, even if the stroke-like symptoms go away.

About Our Services

Meritus Medical Center's Stroke Center provides comprehensive care and treatment for the following conditions:

  • Ischemic Stroke
  • Hemorrhagic Stroke
  • Transient Ischemic Attacks (TIA)

The hospital's stroke team evaluates stroke patients in the emergency department where rapid diagnostic testing includes CT (computed tomography) scans and lab tests. Meritus Medical Center partners with the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) to provide patients suffering from acute stroke with immediate and expert care provided by Board-Certified Neurologists through stroke telemedicine.

Team Members

  • EMS personnel assess and provide emergent care to possible stroke victims and transport patients to the emergency department.
  • Emergency Room Physicians complete in-depth neurological examination and work with a neurologist to determine if a patient is appropriate for tPA.
  • Neurologists specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of disorders in the nervous system including the brain and spinal cord.
  • Vascular neurologists study, evaluate and treat conditions affecting the structure and function of the blood vessels supplying the brain and nervous system.
  • Nurses assist with physical and neurological assessments, administer medications and treatments, monitor the patient's condition, educate patients and families and help coordinate specialized care 24 hours a day.
  • Rehabilitation therapists include physical, occupational, and speech therapists who help patients reach their highest level of functionality in the areas of swallowing, talking, walking and self-care activities.
  • Dietitians provide nutrition assessment and education to stroke patients and their families.
  • Pharmacists review medication orders and make recommendations to the patient's physician.
  • Care Managers are nurses and social workers who coordinate hospital care and assist with discharge and aftercare planning. Care managers provide information about outpatient rehabilitation services and community support agencies to patients and their families.
  • Physiatrists are physicians who specialize in rehabilitation medicine and oversee medical care in the hospital's rehabilitation unit.

Specialty Services

Stroke telemedicine, or telestroke, is the use of high-quality video conferencing between the emergency physician, Board certified neurologist from UPMC and the patient who are at different locations. This state-of-the-art program allows patients who arrive at the emergency department with stroke symptoms to be assessed by Meritus Medical Center's emergency physicians and nurses, but also by a vascular neurologist who specializes in stroke care.

For some ischemic stroke patients who meet strict criteria, a medication called Alteplase, a form of recombinant tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) is administered within the first three hours following the onset of a stroke symptoms. This clot-busting medication can dissolve the blood clot that is causing the stroke and stops the stroke in its tracks.

We Keep Families Updated

Stroke patients who are admitted from the emergency department are moved to the hospital's stroke unit where specially trained nurses care for them along with a multi-disciplinary team of doctors, therapists, pharmacists, nutritionists, and care managers. Patients and families receive education about stroke, medications, follow-up care, as well as a discharged plan that identifies supervision requirements, therapy needs and the ongoing management of stroke risk factors and stroke prevention.

Stroke Center