On Tuesday, nearly 80 booths packed The Center for Visual and Performing Arts for Community Healthcare System’s Stroke and Diabetes Awareness Fair. Participants at the event, sponsored by Community Hospital of Munster and St. Catherine Hospital of East Chicago, enjoyed free screenings that checked blood pressure, pulmonary function, balance, and evaluated stroke risk.
“Stroke is the fifth leading cause of disability and we want people to be empowered in their healthcare,” said Jill Conner, Administrative Director of Neuroscience and Cerebrovascular Services at Community Hospital. “The fact that it’s grown year after year shows just how thirsty the community is for education. They want to have lifestyle modifications in order to protect themselves.”
Vendors advocating for healthy living and smart healthcare also offered information about their services. Healthy eating choices, sleep aids, and home health were among the many risk-management options.
“Each year we see another 100 people come by, so we know that we need to continue offering this education,” Conner said. “Having this event and getting the support of all these vendors speaks volumes about how connected [the community] is to their health and trying to make things better.”
While strokes are incredibly common, knowledge of them and details about how to prevent them are often underreported. Dr. Shaila Gupta, D.O., Medical Director of Neurophysiology at Community Hospital, helped attendees learn all the basics.
“Strokes impact everybody—just about everyone knows someone who’s had a stroke,” Gupta said. “We just want to get the word out on prevention and information to get people to the hospital on time, because there’s a lot of life-altering medications that can help you live a longer and healthier life.”
Community Hospital recently accredited as a Comprehensive Stroke Center, meaning that stroke patients can receive the highest level of complex stroke care right in Northwest Indiana. In the past, full treatment might have required transport to larger cities such as Chicago.
“We have world-class care now, and take care of pretty much all the stroke needs of Northern Indiana,” said Dr. Ender Akan, M.D., Medical Director of the Stroke Center at Community Hospital. “It’s absolutely paramount to have an event like this, because it’s so important that people recognize acute strokes early. You’ll hear the phrase, ‘Time is brain,’ because the brain loses millions of neurons every minute during an acute stroke.”
Other Community Healthcare System physicians took part in the event, highlighting the new advancements in stroke care and offering critical details on stroke causes and treatments.
Dr. Andrea DeLeo, D.O. of the Stroke Center at St. Catherine Hospital, gave a lecture specifically warning about acute strokes, discussing how effective Community Healthcare System’s stroke treatment has become.
“Twenty-three million neurons are lost for every minute of cerebral ischemia without intervention in acute ischemic strokes,” Dr. DeLeo said. “Our stroke leadership team is formidable. We demand that the best treatment options be made available to our patients at the highest quality standards which our hospital system is able to provide as a ‘spoke and wheel’ model for Primary Stroke Centers of excellence at St. Catherine Hospital, St. Mary Medical Center, and Community Hospital as a Comprehensive Stroke Center.”
Community Healthcare System’s stroke services are continuing to expand. The new Community Stroke and Rehabilitation Center in Crown Point, featuring specialty inpatient rehabilitation, is set to open this fall. To learn more about Community Healthcare System, visit COMHS.org.