JANESVILLE, Wis. — The signs and symptoms of a stroke are scary, and they can come out of the blue. It’s why medical providers at Mercyhealth in Janesville this month are taking on something new: the American Heart Association’s (AHA) advanced stroke life support class.

What You Need To Know

  • Mercyhealth is offering the American Heart Association's stroke program to medical providers; it will train medical providers from other hospitals as well

  • Online and in person classes feature specialized scenarios and the latest information on assessments and medications

  • Medical participants are grateful for the training, that helps the hospital streamline the procedures from EMT support to the hospital bedside

Mercyhealth emergency medical services coordinator Joe Murray took the class in Georgia and is now certified to help Wisconsin providers learn more about stroke assessment and care.

“The AHA actually would like us to be a regional training center for other trainee faculty that want to come and learn how to teach this course,” Murray said.

One key component of the class was playing out these bedside models. Ashley Purdy, a nurse of 13 years, said they are critical to her life’s work.

“Muscle memory is the biggest part because as a nurse, you’re examining the patient. You just get to know your patient, like you know, how they smile, you know, how they laugh,” she said. “And so if a subtle change happens, you can tune in on it, but you don’t stop what you’re doing and do the full, ‘Okay, you know, eyes, how they’re smiling, how they’re talking to shoulders.’ But this makes you stop, think. Look at all the process, all the cranial nerves walk through, so you don’t miss anything.”

Murray agreed and added that was an important challenge for his medical providers.

“Kind of takes you outside of your comfort zone of what you thought you knew and what you really knew, and expands upon that and really kind of pushes you to learn more and better yourself when it comes to stroke care,” he said.

The class offers the latest in streamlined stroke care and supports everyone, from Mercyhealth EMTs to hospitalists, as they learn new medications and methods.

Meanwhile, stroke nurse practitioner Shannon Height said she was grateful for the specialized scenario-driven approach.

“Any time we take one of these classes, we always fine-tune our skills and pick up little tips and tricks from our peers, which is always really nice,” Height said.

Those interested can learn more about the next advanced stroke life support learning course at Mercyhealth in October and how to participate in it by reaching out to Murray at (608) 756-6182 or jmurray@mhemail.org.