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Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on Ambulance Diversion

18 Jan 2019 9:46 AM | AIMHI Admin (Administrator)

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Source Article | Comments Courtesy of Matt Zavadsky

Ok, this is a very long article, but the reporter does an AMAZING job covering all the aspects and outcomes resulting from the practice of ambulance diversion.

I strongly encourage you to grab another cup of coffee, sit back and READ this news story – it’s one of those stories that just might actually create the public outcry to help resolve this practice…  It’s already been re-circulated by several national media outlets.

She collapsed next to the best stroke center. 
Her ambulance was turned away. 
It was policy. 
She died.

By John Diedrich of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Jan. 17, 2019 

As she got ready to work the breakfast shift at the Medical College of Wisconsin cafeteria, Tiffany Tate didn’t feel well.

Tate, 37, was a fixture on the cafeteria’s “hot line,” where she worked behind a steaming grill. She knew the names of many workers and their kids, always sharing smiles and small talk.

With a teenager and 8-month-old at home, recent months had been an exhausting blitz for Tate. That morning, she told some of the other kitchen workers she had a headache and felt weak. She figured it was due to a new medication for her back pain.

Shortly after 8 a.m., as Tate and a group of workers came off a break, she felt worse. Tate asked for a piece of bread with honey. A co-worker hustled to get it. She returned to find Tate leaning against a counter, supporting herself with one hand. The left side of Tate’s face drooped; she was slurring her words.

A customer walked up. Both could see what was happening and said the same thing, almost in unison: 

“She’s having a stroke.”

At its most basic level, a stroke is an attack on the brain. Typically, it’s the result of a clot becoming lodged in an artery, choking off vital blood flow. Every minute blood flow is interrupted, it can cause irreversible damage to millions of brain cells.

A stroke can rob a victim’s ability to speak or to see and cause brain damage and paralysis. More than 140,000 people die each year in the United States from strokes, making it the fifth leading cause of death. It is a leading cause of serious, long-term disability.

The latest research says sending patients directly to top-level stroke centers — hospitals that can administer clot-busting drugs or go in through arteries to physically remove clots — offers the best chance at survival. The ideal window for care is within the first three hours.

On that morning four years ago, Tate was having a stroke on the grounds of the Milwaukee Regional Medical Center, and 350 yards from Froedtert Hospital, the area’s most advanced, experienced stroke care center. 

It would be a quick ambulance ride.

If only the ambulance had taken her there.

It didn’t.

Little-known practice of diversion

Every day as thousands of ambulances zig-zag through city streets, along congested highways and rural roads across the nation, it’s easy to imagine they’re headed to the nearest hospital or to the emergency room best suited to care for the sick or injured person on board.

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