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Primary stroke centers save lives

CMS Mini-internship program spreads the word

Under a promising new public health initiative, legislators, aldermen, and community leaders are learning about Cook County’s designated Primary Stroke Centers courtesy of the CMS Mini-internship program.

CMS enthusiastically agreed to lead the educational campaign because many people, including patients and physicians, are unaware of a new Chicago stroke transport protocol that requires acute stroke patients to be taken to the nearest primary stroke center hospital, rather than to the nearest emergency room. The Region XI (Chicago) Emergency Medical Service (EMS) System implemented this protocol in March 2011.

Two leading stroke experts from Rush University Medical Center are offering lawmakers tours of hospital stroke centers and leading discussion on improving outcomes for this major public health burden.  Neelum Aggarwal, MD, clinical core co-leader of Rush’s Alzheimer’s disease research center, and Shyam Prabhakaran, MD, head of cerebrovascular disease and neurocritical care, proposed the mini-internship initiative as an extension of their work at Rush.

Both doctors hope that CMS members will urge their legislative representatives to join this critical campaign, and see first-hand how primary stroke centers would benefit their constituents.  Rush is one of nearly 30 designated primary stroke centers in the Cook County region.

Stroke affects approximately 9,000 Chicagoans annually. It is the third-leading cause of death in the United States and the No. 1 cause for major disability in adults nationwide. Time is of the essence when responding to stroke.  On average, a 50-year old man with stroke loses as many neurons in 10 hours as he would over the next 30 years. The establishment of primary stroke centers in hospitals throughout the region aims to provide stroke patients appropriate treatment as quickly as possible.

The benefits of direct transport to a primary stroke center include:

  • Improved efficiency in patient care.
  • Increased use of acute stroke therapies.
  • Reduced morbidity and mortality.
  • Improved long-term outcomes.
  • Reduced health care costs.

The general public is not aware the services primary stroke centers can provide, such as administration of tPA, or that EMS can take them directly to a stroke center rather than the local emergency room if patients or family members request it.

To invite your elected officials to any one of Cook County’s primary stroke centers, please contact Christine Fouts (312) 670-2550, ext. 326; or email:

Mt. Sinai Hospital Primary Stroke Center Tour
1500 S. California Ave., Chicago, IL 60608
Monday, June 4, 2012
8:00 a.m.--1:00 p.m. (approximate—will finalize in May)

Expected Participants:

Heather Beckstrom
Stroke Program Assistant, Mt. Sinai Hospital

Dr. Mir Yadullahi
Stroke Program Medical Director, Mt. Sinai Hospital

Sen. Annazette Collins (D-5)

Rep. Arthur Turner, Jr. (D-9)

Ald. Jason Ervin (28th Ward)

Ald. Roberto Maldonado (26th Ward)

Swedish Covenant Hospital Primary Stroke Center Tour
5145 N. California Ave., Chicago, IL 60625
Tuesday, June 5, 2012
8:00 a.m.--1:00 p.m. (approximate—will finalize in May)

Expected Participants:

Dr. Bruce McNulty
Emergency Department Director, Swedish Covenant Hospital

Jackie Strzalka, RN
Manager of Intensive Care and Intermediate Care Units
Swedish-Covenant Hospital

Imelda (Mel) Prado, MD, BSN
ED Stroke Coordinator
Swedish-Covenant Hospital

Sen. Heather Steans (D-7)

Rep. Greg Harris (D-13)

Rep. John D’Amico (D-15)

Ald. Patrick J. O’Connor (40th Ward)

Ald. Margaret Laurino (39th Ward)

Mercy Hospital and Medical Center Primary Stroke Center Tour
2525 S. Michigan Ave., # 8, Chicago, IL 60616
Tuesday, June 19, 2012
8:00 a.m.--1:00 p.m. (approximate—will finalize in May)

Expected Participants:

Dr. Jeffrey Kramer
Chief, Section of Neurology
Mercy Hospital and Medical Center

Laura Owens, RN, CCRN
Stroke Coordinator, Mercy Hospital and Medical Center

Sen. Kwame Raoul (D-13)

Rep. Kimberly DuBuclet (D-26)

Rep. Barbara Flynn-Currie (D-25) Majority Leader

Ald. Robert Fioretti (2nd Ward)

Ald. Will Burns (4th Ward)

Little Company of Mary Hospital Primary Stroke Center Tour
736 W. 95th St.
Chicago, IL 60628
Thursday, June 21, 2012
8:00 a.m.--1:00 p.m. (approximate—will finalize in May)

Expected Participants:

Dr. Michael Schwartz
Neurologist, Little Company of Mary Hospital

Dr. Michael O’Mara
mergency Medicine
Little Company of Mary Hospital

Ann Miller
Critical Care Clinical Nurse Specialist
Stroke Coordinator
Little Company of Mary Hospital

Sen. Ed Maloney (D-18)

Rep. Kelly Burke (D-36)


Cook County Area Hospitals with Primary Stroke Centers

Adventist Hinsdale Hospital

Advocate Christ Medical Center

Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital

Advocate Lutheran General Hospital

Advocate South Suburban Hospital

Advocate Trinity Hospital

Alexian Brothers Medical Center

Ingalls Memorial Hospital

John H. Stroger, Jr., Hospital of Cook County

Little Company of Mary Hospital & Health Care Centers

Loyola University Medical Center

MacNeal Hospital

Mercy Hospital and Medical Center

Mount Sinai Hospital Medical Center

NorthShore University HealthSystem

Northwestern Memorial Hospital

Our Lady of the Resurrection Medical Center

Resurrection Medical Center

Rush University Medical Center

Saint Alexius Medical Center

Saint Francis Hospital

Saint Joseph Hospital

Saints Mary and Elizabeth Medical Center

University of Chicago Medical Center

University of Illinois Medical Center at Chicago

West Suburban Medical Center

Westlake Hospital

The CMS Mini-internship program has produced remarkable alliances between elected leaders and community healthcare providers.  In this two-way education project, participants gain insight into the formation of legislation or health policy, as well as the challenges of practicing medicine in today’s healthcare environment, and the responsibilities of healthcare and civic leaders.  Ideally, participants come away with a greater appreciation for the complex world of medical practice.

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