New Stroke Unit at HSC Winnipeg Will Ensure Better Care for Patients


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New 28-bed Unit will Provide Intensive Treatment, Rehabilitation to Stroke Patients: Friesen

A dedicated acute stroke unit will be built at Health Sciences Centre Winnipeg (HSC) to serve stroke patients from across Manitoba, resulting in improved patient outcomes that shorten their time in hospital while reducing costs to treat them, Health, Seniors and Active Living Minister Cameron Friesen announced today.

“Research shows an acute stroke unit can reduce the likelihood of death and disability by as much as 30 per cent for men and women of any age with mild, moderate and severe strokes,” said Friesen.  “This new, centralized unit will help prevent stroke complications, reduce patient length of stay and improve the availability of acute care beds for other patients across our health system.”

An acute stroke unit is considered leading practice across Canada for the treatment, management and rehabilitation of stroke patients.  These types of units are credited with preventing stroke complications and recurrence, speeding up recovery time and ensuring early rehabilitation therapy.  Care is provided in a central location dedicated to the management of stroke patients.  A trained team of inter-professional staff, including stroke neurologists, hospitalists, physiatrists and rehabilitation specialists, work together to deliver early, intensive care.

Approximately 2,000 Manitobans suffer a stroke each year.  Manitoba is the only province without an acute stroke unit.

“Acute stroke care has three windows of therapy including clot busting, clot removal and early intensive rehabilitation therapy,” said Dr. Perry Gray, provincial lead, medical specialist services and chief medical officer with Shared Health.  “Clot busting is available in a number of emergency departments and hospitals across the province and clot removal is performed in specialized radiology suites located at HSC.  However, Manitoba has been missing the third component until now.  With the creation of an acute stroke unit, Manitoba stroke patients will have access to the full range of therapies required to maximize recovery.”

The new, 28-bed unit will be located in the current Women’s Pavilion at HSC.  Construction will begin following the relocation of staff, equipment and programming currently in the Women’s Pavilion to the new HSC Women’s facility in December 2019, the minister noted.

Renovations to the fourth and fifth floors of the Women’s Pavilion will develop approximately 18,400 square feet for the unit.  Building upgrades will include heating, ventilation, lighting, asbestos removal, an upgraded nurse call system, new sprinklers and new elevators.

Moving patients into an acute stroke unit will allow them to receive specialized treatment while freeing up beds elsewhere in the health system for other patients who require acute care, the minister said.

“Improving the co-ordination and delivery of health-care services across Manitoba is a key part of our health system transformation,” said Friesen.  “Our commitment to this new stroke unit will not only ensure that Manitobans are getting the best possible care, it will also support our ongoing efforts to make evidence-based and clinically informed investments that will ensure better health care sooner for Manitoba families.”

Last December, the province partnered with the HSC Foundation and philanthropist Paul Albrechtsen on the development of new interventional angiography facilities and the purchase of new equipment for HSC Winnipeg’s new state-of-the-art Diagnostic Centre of Excellence.  Stroke patients will benefit from the new centre and its advanced equipment when it comes online in 2020.

“We applaud the government for announcing its commitment to implement an acute stroke unit at the Health Sciences Centre, bringing care for stroke patients in Manitoba in line with the rest of the country,” said Diego Marchese, chief operating officer, Heart and Stroke.  “It will also have the benefit of further improving health-care services by attracting and retaining clinicians and other health professionals.”

The cost of the project will be subject to the tendering process, Friesen added.

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