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When stroke strikes, time matters. This is how the Stroke Care Network can help.

May 27, 2021 / in Neurology & brain health / by UK HealthCare

In the event of a stroke, time is critical. Almost two million brain cells can be lost every one minute a stroke goes untreated. Not only can immediate medical attention prevent death, but it can also minimize long-term effects of stroke, including disability.

In Kentucky, stroke is the fifth leading cause of death, killing more than 2,000 people in the Commonwealth in 2017. Additionally, the ruralism of our region and a national shortage of cerebrovascular neurologists contributes to much of our population being underserved for stroke care. 

That’s why Dr. Michael Dobbs, board-certified neurologist at the Kentucky Neuroscience Institute, and Dr. Michael Karpf, former Executive Vice President for Health Affairs, were inspired to create a network among hospitals in the Bluegrass and beyond in 2008 that could provide anyone who suffers a stroke with crucial care right away. Now named the UK HealthCare/Norton Healthcare Stroke Care Network, this collaboration aims to improve the quality of care, preventive medicine, education and research into stroke and related diseases throughout our region.

Almost thirteen years after its formation, the network currently includes 36 hospitals throughout Kentucky, West Virginia and Indiana, but it continues to grow.

"We take the time to get to know our affiliates,” said Lisa Bellamy, managing director of the Stroke Care Network. “They help us understand their strengths and opportunities, and what their goals are. Then we individualize our program to help them be able to provide excellent evidence-based care.”

Affiliates in the network have access to:

  • Program development and maintenance training and materials.
  • Clinical stroke training for doctors and nurses.
  • Education for local EMS teams.
  • Monthly stroke education webinars.
  • Other educational events, such as an annual conference and ad hoc lectures.

The network also launched the SCOPE (Stroke Community Outreach, Prevention and Education) program, which includes free community stroke risk screenings and informational sessions for kids and adults of the affiliates’ communities. To date, SCOPE has helped educate more than 42,000 people.

“Our community outreach program is a very valuable component of what we do,” said Bellamy. “We find that many organizations struggle to build the acute care part of their stroke program, and layering in the community aspect can sometimes fall off if they struggle with resources.”

Both UK HealthCare and Norton Healthcare are comprehensive stroke center certified, the highest ranking a stroke center can achieve, by the Joint Commission. Comprehensive stroke centers deliver the highest quality of care to the most complex cases by offering evidence-based treatments informed by leading-edge research. Additionally, nine Stroke Care Network affiliates are currently acute stroke ready and six are primary stroke centers.

Each stroke center level has a key role in our stroke system of care," said Bellamy. “I think these certifications really speak to the strength of our network."

The other affiliates are continuously working to achieve this type of status, and the network is helping them through every step.

This way, patients can always be confident that they will receive exceptional care at any affiliate hospital in the event of a stroke.

For more information, including a complete listing of our affiliate hospitals, visit our website


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