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Read recent letters to the editor from Islanders in support of the urgent need for an acute stroke unit on PEI

Gary Gray of Montague, survivor of a hemorrhagic stroke 

Ryan Noye of Summerside, who received t-PA, the clot-dissolving drug now available on PEI

Sheila Gallant of Alberton, whose husband Clair had a stroke at age 66 

Barb Campbell, RN, PhD, calls for the political will and determination to put in place this critical element in the PEI Integrated Stroke Strategy

Wilma Hambly, Chair of the Foundation's Board of Directors, believes strongly that a stroke unit would help to reduce the terrible toll caused by stroke on the Island 


Opinion Editorial

Acute Stroke Unit Would Offer New Hope

by Charlotte Comrie, CEO Heart and Stroke Foundation of Prince Edward iIland

 The summer of 2006 marked the launch of the PEI Integrated Stroke Strategy, the culmination of several years of research, collaboration and hard work by staff and volunteers of the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Prince Edward Island and the provincial Department of Health.

 Good news for Islanders, the stroke strategy offers a proactive and coordinated approach to individuals with stroke. In the simplest terms, what this means is access to appropriate, high quality stroke care, delivered in a timely manner.

 The group responsible for developing the PEI Integrated Stroke Strategy continues to monitor its progress. While encouraged with the implementation of several recommendations, particularly the availability of the clot-buster drug t-PA at both Queen Elizabeth and Prince County Hospitals, they are now anxious to see another of the strategy’s 19 recommendations implemented.

 This recommendation, calling for an acute stroke unit at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Charlottetown, comes from clear evidence that care in an acute stroke unit improves outcomes. Patients who receive this specialized care are more likely not only to survive, but also to be able to function more independently following discharge from hospital.

 There is compelling proof from centres that offer treatment for stroke in dedicated hospital units, that complications, the most common cause of death in these patients, occur far less frequently in patients cared for in stroke units. Multi-disciplinary teams on stroke units are highly skilled in assessing patients’ health status after stroke, and their range of expertise offers patients the best possible chance for optimum recovery after a stroke.

 Experts also point to PEI’s aging population as further evidence that Islanders will require this type of care in greater numbers over the next few years. An aging demographic means more Islanders with significant risk factors for stroke, many of whom will need the services provided by such a stroke unit in the foreseeable future.

 We need to begin now to develop the infrastructure that will be critical to our ability to deal with this potential increase in demand for stroke care on PEI. Moving forward, we must ensure that Island residents have access to the stroke care they need when they need it. It is evident to those who deal with individuals affected by stroke on a daily basis, that an acute stroke unit offers the most effective change to impact the largest number of stroke sufferers. What it comes down to is quality of life. Individuals who suffer a stroke and their families need and deserve nothing less.