Windsor Regional Hospital has established a new 16-bed acute stroke unit at its Ouellette campus.

Hospital officials say it’s a move that concentrates all Windsor-Essex stroke patients in a dedicated unit providing specialized care for better patient outcomes.

“Rather than having patients dispersed throughout the region, this unit allows us to concentrate our local stroke care expertise on one floor, on one unit, to realize better patient outcomes,” said Denis St. Louis, coordinator of the District Stroke Centre in Windsor-Essex. “It supports the Ontario Stroke Network strategy to care for all stroke patients in one unit.”

This new stroke unit is staffed by an inter-professional stroke team with a specialized interest in stroke care, including nurses, physiotherapists, occupational therapists and speech language pathologists.

The move transfers stroke services to the 8th Floor West at Ouellette campus, which was already accounting for most local stroke patient volume, requiring the transfer of a smaller number of stroke patients from WRH’s Met Campus and Leamington District Memorial Hospital to this specialized unit.

Concentrating stroke patients in one unit is a best practice included in an Ontario Stroke Evaluation Report (2011), which recommends that there be efforts made to transport persons with stroke to hospitals with specialized stroke units (also known as “designated stroke centres”) to continue a trend of reduced mortality of Ontario patients due to a stroke.

“Research has shown that patients admitted to a dedicated stroke unit have better survival rates and reduced lengths of stay in hospital,” said Dr. Michael Winger. “We know that specialized care in dedicated units improves the ability of the patient to return home with regained independence.”

WRH is the District Stroke Centre for Windsor-Essex and is expected to provide leadership, development, implementation and integration of stroke care for residents throughout their Erie-St. Clair Local Health Integration Network, and includes all points of the spectrum of stroke care from promotion and primary and secondary prevention, to acute care, rehabilitation and home care.

“The Windsor Regional Hospital District Stroke Program believes that the citizens of Windsor-Essex deserve and have a right to access of a specialized Acute Stroke Unit with an aim to create a collaborative stroke strategy with a team that is committed to ongoing improvements in stroke care and stroke patient outcomes,” said Janice Dawson, WRH’s vice-president of critical care, cardiology and district stroke.