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Press Release

New Stroke System Goes Live January 2 in Contra Costa County

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Contra Costa County officially launched its Stroke System this week, becoming only the 11th jurisdiction in the state to establish a network designed to reduce harm caused by strokes.

The new Contra Costa County Stroke System went live January 2 and will provide a coordinated 911 emergency response, linking patients to trained emergency medical providers who identify stroke victims and rapidly transport them to designated primary stroke certified hospitals within a critical four-hour treatment window. This teamwork is known to significantly reduce brain damage and save lives.

There are approximately 1,000 suspected cases of stroke every year in Contra Costa. From 2005-2007, it was the county's third leading killer at 1,462 deaths, according to Contra Costa Emergency Medical Services Medical Director Dr. Joe Barger.

When a person develops stroke symptoms, such as sudden weakness on one side, trouble walking, seeing or speaking, or a sudden severe headache with no known cause, it's important to call 911 and not to wait, said Contra Costa Stroke Program Coordinator Mia Fairbanks. "Those who do wait risk permanent brain damage or death," she said.

The seven Contra Costa hospitals participating in the launch of the new stroke system are John Muir Medical Center's Walnut Creek and Concord campuses, Kaiser Medical Center's Walnut Creek, Antioch and Richmond campuses, Doctors Medical Center, San Pablo and San Ramon Regional Medical Center.

"Creating systems of care to improve survival works," Emergency Medical Services Director Patricia Frost said. "With so many participating hospitals, Contra Costa has raised the standard of care for stroke throughout our community."

In addition to rapid notification and treatment, the Stroke System promotes community stroke education and prevention using the National Institute of Health's "Act in Time" campaign. "'Act in Time' means everyone in Contra Costa can identify the signs of stroke and knows to call 911," Frost said.

To find out more about stroke and Emergency Medical Services, visit

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