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L.A. County set to get 2 new emergency stroke centers

December 3, 2009 |  7:12 pm

Two hospitals that serve Los Angeles’ Eastside and the western San Gabriel Valley are expected to become Los Angeles County’s newest stroke centers.

The designation means that White Memorial Medical Center in Boyle Heights, just east of downtown Los Angeles, and Huntington Hospital in Pasadena will promise to have a specialized stroke neurologist available at all times, and will have the ability to run critical blood tests and brain scans that can give stroke patients a greater chance of survival.

The new designations will give L.A. County residents a choice of 12 area hospitals that provide stroke services. On Nov. 16, L.A. County officials began directing paramedics to take suspected stroke victims to the nearest stroke center if the patient is less than 30 minutes away.

Some areas remain underserved, however. South Los Angeles and the eastern San Gabriel, Pomona and Antelope valleys do not have stroke centers nearby. Officials predict that more hospitals will seek stroke certification over time.

Finalization of the new designations for White Memorial Medical Center and Huntington Hospital is expected to occur Dec. 15, said Michael Wilson, a spokesman for the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services.

The five “sudden symptoms” of stroke include weakness on one side of the body and severe headache, as well as difficulty speaking, walking or seeing. Doctors say people should call 911 if they suspect a loved one is having a stroke because each minute lost can cause more brain damage. Transportation by paramedics also gives emergency room staff time to prepare for the suspected stroke patient’s arrival.

The existing 10 certified stroke centers in L.A. County include Cedars-Sinai Medical Center near West Hollywood; Glendale Adventist Medical Center; Long Beach Memorial Medical Center; Northridge Hospital Medical Center; Presbyterian Intercommunity Hospital in Whittier; Providence Little Company of Mary Medical Center – San Pedro; Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center in Burbank; Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center in Westwood; Torrance Memorial Medical Center; and Los Alamitos Medical Center on the Orange County border.

—Rong-Gong Lin II