By Barb Jacobsmeyer, EVP, President of Inpatient Hospitals

As Encompass Health enters its second year of our national strategic sponsorship with the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association’s Together to End Stroke initiative, it’s worth noting the strides we made in our quest to build more awareness on stroke, including the symptoms of stroke and the differences in stroke care providers, as guided by the AHA/ASA.

With stroke affecting nearly 800,000 individuals each year and two-thirds of stroke survivors needing inpatient rehabilitation services after hospitalization, it’s important for people to be informed on the options they have for care and the difference that care can make in their function and independence.

According to the 2016 adult stroke rehabilitation guidelines released by the AHA, whenever possible, stroke patients should be treated at an inpatient rehabilitation facility rather than a skilled nursing facility. While at an inpatient rehabilitation facility, a patient participates in at least three hours of rehabilitation a day from physical therapists, occupational therapists and speech therapists. Nurses are continuously available and doctors typically visit daily. (SOURCE: AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION, INC.)

In our first year, we accomplished the following:

  • Launched the Life After Stroke guide, an educational guide and workbook for stroke survivors and their caregivers to help them during their recovery journey, in English and Spanish
  • Distributed 44,833 Life After Stroke guides through our hospitals, encompasshealth.com and the AHA/ASA’s website
  • Engaged 11,000 guests through our 20 sponsored Go Red Luncheons across the country
  • Educated Go Red Luncheon guests on the signs of stroke and the deficits a stroke patient may face through onsite art, miniature golf and F.A.S.T. activities.

We’ll continue building that momentum with even more educational resources and outreach this year, so stay tuned.

Sharing our expertise
We’ve also been able to share the voice of talented Encompass Health team members who help our patients regain their independence after stroke.

Dr. Lourdes Nunez, medical director of Encompass Health Rehabilitation Hospital of Miami, and former stroke patient Angie, discussed Life’s Simple 7 in Spanish on Miami’s Telemundo network. Then, after the untimely death of “90210” actor Luke Perry, Dr. Stephen Chastain, medical director of Encompass Health Rehabilitation Hospital, an affiliate of Martin Health, discussed strokes in the younger population with listeners of 850 WFTL.

Sharing our successes
Finally, many of our former stroke patients provided hope to others through their inspiring stories. Jessica Huey, a former patient of Encompass Health Rehabilitation Hospital of Memphis, recounted having a stroke at just 28 years old and how she is thriving now thanks to her therapy team. Karen Blanchard, a retired medical technician and current Manatee County School Bus driver, was asleep when her stroke occurred. She thanked the team at Encompass Health Rehabilitation Hospital of Sarasota for getting her back to making her prize-winning carrot cake.

While each patient’s story is unique, we remain inspired and driven to provide the best care possible for stroke survivors, helping them return to the life they lived before their strokes. Encompass Health is proud to be a part of the fight against stroke, and we know that, together, we can truly make a difference in our communities through education, awareness and top-notch, customized care.

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