More than 350 delegates from across Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) gathered last week for HMC’s World Stroke Day Symposium.
Organized by the stroke services team, the event was held to mark World Stroke Day 2015 on 29 October and celebrated the recent progress made by the organization in caring for stroke patients.
The event featured presentations from senior leaders involved in the care of stroke patients, including progress updates from the stroke services team, details of HMC’s stroke awareness campaign and a video of stroke patients recalling their positive experiences of care at HMC.
Professor Ashfaq Shuaib, Director of HMC’s Neurosciences Institute, praised the work of the stroke care teams: “I’m incredibly proud of the efforts of everyone involved in the delivery of care to stroke patients at HMC for the contributions they have made to improving patient outcomes. Effective care for stroke patients requires a number of service areas across multiple facilities to work in unison.”
He said “The Ambulance Service has consistently met its National Health Strategy response targets, meaning stroke patients arrive as quickly as possible at the hospital. Our radiology teams ensure fast, advanced diagnosis, utilizing state-of-the-art imaging technology to capture high quality scans, while the highly-trained rehabilitation teams at Rumailah Hospital enable patients to recover as quickly and fully as possible.”
Prof. Shuaib described how the redesign of a specialized stroke service featuring a multi-disciplinary care team at Hamad General Hospital (HGH) in 2014 has played a key role in a range of improvements in stroke care, including:
-A reduction in the average length of stay for stroke patients.
-An increase in the rate of thrombolysis treatment (a clot-busting medication).
-A reduction in the rate of complications for stroke patients.
The stroke patient video shown at the event featured the experiences of three patients who had been recently treated at HMC. The patients described in their own words how they suffered a stroke and how the care they received contributed to their recovery.
Delegates also heard details about HMC’s ongoing stroke awareness campaign. The campaign uses the internationally established F.A.S.T. message to highlight the major signs of stroke and reinforces the need to act quickly.
F – Face drooping: Has your face suddenly drooped on one side or do you have difficulty smiling?
A – Arm weakness: Are you unable to raise both arms?
S – Speech problems: Do you have difficulty speaking or being understood by other people?
T – Time is ticking: Call 999 immediately
Speaking about the campaign, Mr Ali Al Khater, Executive Director of Corporate Communications, explained the main objective of HMC’s stroke awareness campaign: “Our clinicians continually tell us that fast and specialized medical intervention is the key to successful treatment for stroke patients. The stroke teams have worked hard to develop a stroke service that meets the highest international standards. However, to ensure our teams are able to treat stroke patients quickly, it is vital that the public know the signs and symptoms of stroke so they can identify the issue and immediately call 999 for help. This was the primary aim of the awareness campaign.”
The first phase of the campaign ran in May and June and featured radio and television commercials, advertising in newspapers, print media and online, and campaign messaging in shopping malls. Additionally, water bottles with F.A.S.T. messaging and flyers were handed out in labor camps and among workers in the Industrial Area to ensure the message was communicated to Qatar’s low-income workers.
Phase two is currently ongoing, utilizing similar channels to the first phase but with some notable additions, including stands in three Doha malls manned by HMC clinical staff who are available to give advice and share stroke awareness leaflets.
Prof. Shuaib emphasized the need to continue providing the highest standards of care: “Every day, we see four or five new stroke cases at HGH and the average age of stroke patients in Qatar is far younger than you would see in Europe or America. It is absolutely essential that we continually look to push the boundaries in our delivery of stroke care at HMC, while at the same time maintaining our commitment to educating the public about this important health issue.”