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ECMC is a New York State Department
of Health Designated Stroke Center

Why does New York State designate certain hospitals to be stroke centers?

In the event of a stroke or stroke symptoms, the need to act quickly is critical. Hospitals that are dedicated stroke centers are equipped with special diagnostic equipment and staffed around the clock with highly trained medical professionals experienced in the treatment of strokes. With a narrow window of time for stroke treatment to be both safe and effective, high standards of quality are needed at all stroke centers to offer the best results for stroke patients in New York State.

Why is it important to have more than one stroke center for the Western New York area?

Erie County has the highest mortality rate from strokes of any county in New York State. Strokes are the most prevalent cause of disability and the third most prevalent cause of death in the USA. In 2004, the cerebrovascular death rate in Erie County was 63 per 100,000 individuals compared to the upstate New York average of 45 per 100,000. In developing a dedicated stroke program, ECMC is responding to this alarmingly high stroke mortality rate for the citizens of Erie County by providing outstanding access to skilled stroke care at our centrally located medical center.

What is a stroke?

A stroke usually occurs when a blood vessel is blocked or bursts. A blood vessel blocked by a clot results in an ischemic stroke when a portion of the brain is deprived of oxygen and stops functioning. Blood vessel blockage accounts for 85% of all strokes and fast diagnosis and treatment is critical to prevent death and reduce disability from a stroke. A hemorrhagic stroke occurs when a blood vessel carrying oxygen and nutrients to the brain bursts and spills blood into the brain. This also deprives a portion of the brain of oxygen and causes it to stop functioning.

How does a stroke center diagnose and treat an acute stroke?

Diagnosing the cause of the stroke is the first step in effective treatment. All 116 stroke centers in New York State have the capability to perform CT scans to locate the blockage or bleeding. In addition to the standard CT brain examination, ECMC also has two 64-slice scanners to perform CT angiograms. This procedure enables clinicians to inject dye, perform rapid scans, and create three-dimensional images to more quickly and effectively pinpoint the location of a blockage. Special interactive software available at ECMC enables the physician to twist, turn, and rotate the views of brain and neck vessels and discern aneurysms and other irregularities not normally found by conventional means.

No matter where you are, rapid diagnosis and treatment is essential to reduce death and disability from stroke. That's why it's important to learn the FAST acronym:


F = Face: Is one side of the face drooping down?
A = Arm: Can the person raise both arms, or
          is one arm weak?

S = Speech: Is speech slurred or confusing?
T = Time: Time is critical! Call 9-1-1 immediately!

Paula Quesinberry

Paula Quesinberry, RN, BSN, coordinates and supervises the health services related to all aspects of the stroke program at ECMC. In addition to her clinical responsibilities as a core member of the “Code Stroke Emergency Team,” Paula develops and implements stroke standards of care and practice, quality improvement, staff education, and clinical research. She initiates patient and community education and support programs and ensures ongoing adherence to New York State Department of Health guidelines for stroke centers.


For more information on the ECMC Stroke Center,
    call: 716-898-5017.
An ECMC Stroke Center Success Story

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