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Stony Brook University Medical Center Initiates Suffolk County-Wide Stroke Awareness Day Campaign


Stroke is the third leading cause of death in the United States. Every 3.1 minutes, someone in the United States dies of a stroke.

On May 8, nearly twenty health and community organizations will join Stony Brook University Medical Center's JCAHO certified Stroke Program for "War on Stroke," an extension of the national Stroke Alert" initiative targeted to reach more than 1 million residents of Suffolk County. Nearly 20 health care facilities and organizations have signed up to participate in SBUMC's "War on Stroke," and have mobilized, committing to perform stroke screenings and raise awareness about the signs and symptoms of stroke.

"Our goal is to reach 1.5 million people with the message that time is brain, and reduction of risk for future disease and disability is dependant on recognizing the signs and symptoms of stroke," says Candice Perkins, M.D., Assistant Clinical Professor of Neurology in the School of Medicine and Director of the Stroke Program at Stony Brook University Medical Center. We continually strive to improve quality of life for stroke patients and their families, and raising awareness is vital to accomplish this goal."

One of Dr. Perkins' patients, Laurene Papamichail, 49, of Manorville, is living testimony. Two years ago, her son, Joseph, just 16 at the time, saw his mother lying on their kitchen floor, unable to move her right side, and he immediately recognized what was happening. His maternal grandmother had suffered a stroke two years earlier and he was fully aware of the symptoms.

"Joseph was very calm," said Laurene. "He called 911, told them I was having a stroke, told them what medications I was on, and helped them get me to the hospital. Within an hour I had received medication, and I started feeling better almost immediately."

Laurene is one of the more fortunate victims of stroke. She made a near-complete recovery, and is self-sufficient, which is not the case for most. Because her mother suffered a stroke and had to live in a nursing home for the last two years of her life, she knows stroke is the number one leading cause of long-term disability in the United States. She knows her son, who just secured Eagle Scout honors in March and is a Freshman in college, through his quick action, saved her a good portion of her brain, and quite possibly her life.

"I'm just glad that I was there to help," said Joseph. "If it happened just a few hours later, after I went to school, nobody would have noticed until hours later."

Led by Stroke Fellowship trained Candice J. Perkins, M.D., who is board certified in Neurology and board certified in Vascular Neurology, the Stroke Program at Stony Brook is dedicated to establishing a higher standard of medical care for individuals afflicted with stroke, SBUMC's Stroke Program is certified with the Joint Commission Gold Seal of Approval(TM) for stroke care. The program is also certified by the New York State Department of Health. Stony Brook is the only hospital on Long Island to receive the certification from JCAHO and was one of the first three hospitals to be certified in New York when receiving initial certification in 2004. Only nine other hospitals in New York State are currently JCAHO certified.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Heart Disease Stroke and Statistics (2005), approximately 700,000 people suffer a stroke each year, and stroke is the third leading cause of death in the nation. Thus, quality of care for stroke remains a critical part of healthcare services for Americans, including the thousands afflicted and recovering from stroke in populated regions like Suffolk County.

To find out about participating locations or to become a participating location for SBUMC's "War on Stroke," Stroke Alert Program, go to http://www.strokealert.org/longisland or call Stony Brook University Medical Center HealthConnect® at 631-444-4000.

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