WDHB to mark Stroke Awareness Week with opening of new Acute Stroke Unit

2 April 2014
Wanganui Hospital’s AT&R (Assessment, Treatment and Rehabilitation) Ward will officially open the Whanganui District Health Board’s (WDHB) new Acute Stroke Unit on Monday 14 April - the last day of this year’s Stroke Awareness Week (April 7 to 14).
WDHB clinical nurse manager Amanda Van Elswijk says AT&R staff are delighted Wanganui Hospital will soon have dedicated space and equipment for the specialist care of patients recovering from stroke.
Two double rooms already fitted with ceiling hoists are being set up for the unit which it’s hoped, in time, will include beds specifically designed to enhance stroke care.
Other specialist equipment designed to enhance the care of those who’ve had a serious stroke is being trialled, and AT&R staff have been trained in acute stroke care.
In 2010, the Stroke Foundation released New Zealand’s National Stroke Clinical Guidelines outlining the best care for stroke patients. The Ministry of Health has since encouraged DHBs to develop a care pathway which includes establishing specialist acute stroke units.   
Mrs Van Elswijk says research has shown that stroke patients who have access to acute stroke units attached to rehabilitation wards have better long-term outcomes.
Wanganui Hospital’s discharge lounge, currently housed in the AT&R Ward, will move temporarily to the Medical Ward to make room for the Acute Stroke Unit which is set to be blessed on Friday 11 April.

Facts about stroke
  • Stroke is the third largest killer in New Zealand (about 2500 people every year). Around 10 percent of stroke deaths occur in people under 65.
  • Every day, about 24 New Zealanders have a stroke. A quarter occur in people under 65.
  • Stroke is the major cause of serious adult disability in New Zealand.
  • Stroke is largely preventable, yet about 9000 New Zealanders every year have a stroke.
  • There are an estimated 60,000 stroke survivors in New Zealand. Many are disabled and need significant daily support. However, stroke recovery can continue throughout life.
  • Most people can’t recognise the signs of a stroke occurring. Make sure you are aware of the signs to look for.
  • High blood pressure is a major cause of strokes. One in five New Zealanders has high blood pressure, and a third of these don’t know it. Reducing your blood pressure can greatly reduce stroke risk.
  • Stroke is a medical emergency but many New Zealanders do not have access to the best possible stroke hospital services.

For information about how to recognise the signs of, and how to prevent stroke, visit www.stroke.org.nz.