Selected Podcast

Get With the Guidelines: Stroke Silver Plus Achievement Award

If you have a stroke, getting medical care as quickly as possible can help prevent death or minimize the lasting effects of stroke. That's why it is important for you to know the signs of a possible stroke, learn your risk factors and identify what you need to do if you suspect you or a loved one is having a stroke. 

Listen as May Ronci, RN, discusses important stroke information and The Get With The Guidelines® - Stroke Silver Plus Quality Achievement award for Palmdale Regional Medical Center.
Get With the Guidelines: Stroke Silver Plus Achievement Award
Featured Speaker:
May Ronci, RN
May Ronci, RN, is the Sepsis, Stroke and Palliative Care Coordinator at Palmdale Regional Medical Center.

Melanie Cole (Host): According to the American Heart Association, each year, about 800,000 people experience a new or recurrent stroke. A stroke is a medical emergency. Prompt treatment is crucial and early action can minimize brain damage and potential complications. We are pleased to announce that Palmdale Regional Medical Center has earned the “Get With The Guidelines Stroke Silver Plus Quality Achievement.” This award recognizes Palmdale's commitment and success in implementing a high standard of stroke care by insuring that their stroke patients receive treatment that meets nationally accepted evidence-based standards and recommendations. Congratulations on your Get With The Guidelines Stroke Silver Plus Award, Palmdale Regional Medical Center. My guest today is May Ronci. She's the sepsis, stroke, and palliative care coordinator at Palmdale Regional Medical Center. Welcome to the show, May. So tell us what that Get With The Guidelines Stroke Silver Plus Award is?

May Ronci, RN (Guest): Good morning, Melanie. Thank you. Get With The Guidelines Stroke Plus for us means that we have been able to meet all of the requirements that are put forth by CMS in meeting certain criteria for our patients and that requires us to maintain an 85% or better on all of those what they call "Core Measures" -- that is prescribing the right medication, administering certain medications on time, and providing patients with certain care in a timely manner, and we have been able to maintain that 85% score better for an entire year without any alterations in that scoring, which is really quite an accomplishment for our hospital.

Melanie: It certainly is quite an accomplishment, and it's great for the community to know, May, that they can count on this as a stroke center and some place that they can trust should they, God forbid, they or a loved one have a stroke. So, let's talk about stroke now. There are certain risk factors that contribute to your risk of stroke. Tell us what those are, please?

May: Of course. So, some of the risks are modifiable such as smoking, our diet, lifestyle, and there's, of course, some things that we can't modify -- gender, our race -- so those things put patients at a higher risk, but certainly the modifiable risk factors, we encourage patients to not smoke, to lower their cholesterol, to exercise, to eat healthier, to lose weight.

Melanie: So, then if somebody is at risk for a stroke, what are some of the symptoms -- the signs -- that they should recognize? I know that there is a moniker -- something that's used to help identify the signs of a stroke. Please explain that for us.

May: Yes. So, all of our hospitals, you come into Palmdale Regional, we advertise the moniker 'FAST;’ F-A-S-T. FAST meaning facial droop – so the first thing we are looking for, and anybody will be able to recognize if the patient's face starts to droop on one side or the other. That's one of the key signs that there is something happening neurologically. A is arms. So, you're looking for an arm drift. If they aren't able to hold their arms out, and one of them drifts down, or they have -- they are flaccid on one side. That's going to be another key indicator that something's changing. Speech is really probably the most recognizable by most people. They'll have slurred speech; they'll be unable to make sentences. They'll speak in kind of jumbled-up language, and then time. Time is the most important part of FAST being that time equals brain. So, when you notice any of those symptoms, call 911 or get your loved one to the emergency room as timely as possible because we want to make sure that our interventions are able to save any brain tissue that could be damaged as a result of the stroke.

Melanie: So, should they call 911 or is it acceptable to try and drive your loved one? Is there something that the EMS can do on the way to the hospital if they suspect a stroke?

May: Yes. We always prefer they call 911 if they are recognizing any of these signs. Sometimes it's not possible if they're out and about in a car driving somewhere. Sometimes if you're already in the car, just bring them here. But with 911 responding, especially into a home setting or if you're further out from the hospital, there's a very delicate timeframe in which a stroke patient needs to be treated and having EMS available because there are many other things that can mimic strokes. Low blood sugar is an example and that's one of the first things that EMS will be checking for is what is the patient's blood sugar, and we want to make sure that if it is a stroke, the EMS is starting IV fluids and getting those lines in for us and getting the patient to the emergency room as quickly as possible. They will call ahead of time and let us know the patient's on the way. We prepare CT scan. The emergency staff will be up front at the door waiting for the patient when they arrive so that we can treat the patient. Again, it's all about treating that brain in a timely manner to make sure we don't have any long-lasting or permanent brain damage.

Melanie: And tell us about the stroke prevention program at Palmdale Regional Medical Center. Can people if they know their risk -- can they prevent a stroke?

May: Strokes are definitely preventable if you, again, modify those risk factors that put you at a high risk for stroke. It's all about education and making yourself aware of the risks of stroke and trying to avoid any of those things that put you at a higher risk. Again, as we've discussed are some things that we can't change about ourselves, but those things that we can modify, we do have a stroke support group here at the hospital that meets once a month. It's the third Wednesday of every month from 5:30 to 6:30, and it is not just the stroke support group for our stroke survivors, but their families and anybody in the community that wants to come learn about stroke, about how to prevent stroke, about how to care for a loved one who’s had a stroke, or just to learn about stroke so that you are a member of society that can help others in your community.

Melanie: What a great program. So, wrap it up for us, May with your best information about stroke, recognizing those symptoms, the stroke prevention program, and the Get With The Guidelines Stroke Plus Silver Award at Palmdale Regional Medical Center.

May: We have a robust stroke program. We are working towards our primary stroke center certification through the Joint Commission, and we'll have that accomplished by the end of this year, so we will be the location in the Antelope Valley for our patients that live here in Palmdale to go to for stroke prevention, for stroke help, and for stroke support.

Melanie: Thank you so much for being with us today. It's great information. You're listening to Palmdale Regional Radio with Palmdale Regional Medical Center. For more information, you can go to That's Physicians are independent practitioners who are not employees or agents of Palmdale Regional Medical Center. The hospital shall not be liable for actions or treatments provided by physicians. This is Melanie Cole. Thanks so much for listening.