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NHS stroke program continues to excel

Posted Jun 30th, 2015

Niagara Health System’s stroke program continues to excel in a number of key care areas, according to a recent stroke report card.

The stroke report card released by the Ontario Stroke Network shows the Niagara District Stroke Centre as the best in the province for “door-to-needle time” (the time patients wait to receive life-saving t-PA) at an average of about 30 minutes.

As well, the centre, based at the NHS’s Greater Niagara General Site in Niagara Falls, continues to perform among the best in the province for:

  • proportion of stroke patients who received a brain CT or MRI within 24 hours of arrival at the Emergency Department.
  • percentage of patients discharged to rehabilitation.

“The expertise and commitment of the Stroke Team at the Greater Niagara General Site ensures Niagara residents receive high quality care,” says program co-ordinator Leanne Hammond. “While Niagara performs well on most indicators, there is always opportunity for improvement and the team works collaboratively across the continuum to ensure alignment with Canadian Best Practice Recommendations.”

Stroke symptoms usually appear suddenly and include loss of strength or numbness in the face, arm or leg, difficulty speaking, vision problems, severe and unusual headache and loss of balance. It is vital to call 9-1-1 as soon as signs and symptoms appear.

Derek McNally, NHS Executive Vice President, Clinical Services and Chief Nursing Executive, praised the stroke program’s leadership, front-line staff, physicians, Niagara EMS and Hotel Dieu Shaver Health and Rehabilitation Centre for the achievements.

“The results of the report card illustrate the incredible work of our team in providing quality healthcare,” says Mr. McNally. “Also important in the success of the stroke program has been our strong partnership with Hotel Dieu Shaver Health and Rehabilitation Centre and Niagara EMS.”

Jane Rufrano, CEO, Hotel Dieu Health and Rehabilitation Centre, said: "The results of the report card demonstrate the Niagara District Stroke Centre's dedication to ensure Niagara stroke patients are receiving the best care. Our strong partnership allows a seamless transfer of patients from acute care to a rehab setting, allowing patients the best possible level of care at the appropriate time."

Niagara EMS Chief Kevin Smith added: "With the release of this report card it illustrates the importance of how health care providers and systems work collaboratively to improve patient outcomes. Knowing early recognition signs of a stroke, access to 9-1-1 emergency medical dispatchers, response by paramedics and then transport to and care at the appropriate care facility are paramount to a patient’s recovery.”


Think FAST; recognize and react to the warning signs of stroke:

F (facial droop)

A (arm weakness)

S (speech slurred or garbled)

T (time to call 9-1-1)


The NHS’s Niagara District Stroke Centre is the regional centre for stroke care. It is located at the Greater Niagara General Site, where a specially trained Emergency Department stroke team treats patients from across the region. This includes assessment for and administration of t-PA, a clot-busting drug that may stop an ischemic stroke.

Niagara Health System