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Monthlong campaign aimed at raising stroke awareness

Upstate University Hospital celebrates Stroke Awareness Month in May with several community outreach efforts for the public and a key announcement that will highlight the institution’s stroke care expertise across the region.

Upstate is the area’s only Comprehensive Stroke Center, a designation it received last year from DNV Healthcare after an arduous review of its stroke team, policies and facilities.

“We have the staff available on-site anytime of day or night to treat any type of stroke from blood vessel blockage to bleeding or hemorrhagic stroke, such as those caused by brain aneurysms,” said Gene Latorre, MD, MPH, medical director of Upstate’s Comprehensive Stroke Center team, which includes neurologists, neurosurgeons, interventional radiologists, cardiologists, pharmacists and rehabilitation therapists, among others.

One Stroke Awareness Month event that Upstate sponsors highlights the resiliency of stroke survivors and their commitment to living an active life. Strikes Against Stroke is a bowling fundraiser, to be held May 6, from 5 to 8 p.m. at Flamingo Bowl, 7239 Oswego Road, Liverpool. The evening will include a silent auction, but the highlight is seeing stroke survivors return to enjoy a favorite hobby.

“It’s a wonderful event and very uplifting as stroke survivors gather for an evening of fun with those individuals who cared for them,” said Jennifer Schleier, a registered nurse certified in critical care, who manages the Upstate stroke program.

Another event highlighting Upstate’s stroke care will be the Strike Out Stroke event, the Syracuse Chiefs game on May 20, where the first 1,000 fans will receive a free baseball jersey. One of Upstate’s leading neurosurgeons will arrive by helicopter and stroke experts will be on hand to answer questions and pass along stroke awareness information and giveaways.

Upstate officials say that message needs to be more widely known, citing that fewer than one in 10 people can identify the warning signs of stroke. Knowing the early warning signs of stroke can improve one’s care. The life-saving acronym is FAST: F for facial droop; A for arm or leg weakness; S for speech of language difficulty; T for time to call 911.

Another big focus of Upstate’s outreach efforts are members of the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) community who play a vital role in transporting patients quickly and safely to a qualified stroke center.

Experts from the Upstate stroke team will participate in the We Are One: Prehospital Medicine and Trauma Teaching Day, to be held at The Lodge at Welch Allyn, Skaneateles, N.Y. May 16.

“EMS members are really members of our stroke team,” said Josh Onyan, Upstate Stroke Program outreach team coordinator. “They are on the frontlines of care and instrumental in getting stroke patients to our Comprehensive Stroke Center quickly and safely.

Onyan was named Upstate’s new Stroke Program Outreach coordinator in February and brings to the position a wealth of knowledge stemming from his experience working in an intensive care setting, interventional radiology and home-care nursing.

Onyan has hit the ground running meeting with the EMS community and referring hospitals across the region. “We have a singular focus: to ensure that stroke patients coming to our hospital have the highest quality of stroke care available in the region.”

Caption: Josh Onyan is Upstate University Hospital’s Stroke Program outreach coordinator.

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