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Here's how Fairchild is saving people from dying from strokes

Bill Choy
Siskiyou Daily News

Earlier this year, a dietitian at Fairchild Medical Center in Yreka interacted with a patient and noticed signs of a stroke that most people may not have picked up on. 

She quickly went into stroke protocol, and work was quickly performed on the patient. These timely measures saved the person's life, said Moudy Youssef, Fairchild's Chief Medical Officer, Internal Medicine Physician, and Stroke Medical Director. If the patient hadn't been diagnosed in a timely manner, they likely would not have survived.  

So, how did the dietitian know what to do? 

Moudy Youssef is Fairchild's Chief Medical Officer, Internal Medicine Physician, and Stroke Medical Director.

Simple. They received training. All staff at FMC undergo rigorous training on how to identify strokes and how to initiate a code stroke in the hospital. Clinical nursing staff and physicians are also required to complete annual stroke education. Along with stroke education, there is a stroke "tip of the month" and additional stroke training offered throughout the year. 

This is all part of a bigger hospital-wide push in the prevention and treatment of strokes.  

“It’s a great story,” Youssef said about the dietitian saving the patient’s life. He said it is a perfect example of why their stroke program is needed in Siskiyou County. 

In November, Fairchild received certification as a Primary Stroke Center with the Joint Commission, the American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association. The hospital is the only Certified Primary Stroke Center between Medford, Ore. and Redding. 

“Obtaining the Primary Stroke Center Certification was a huge accomplishment that really proved that Fairchild is ready and able to identify and care for all patients that present with stroke-like symptoms,” said Sara Edgerton BSN, RN, Fairchild's Stroke Coordinator/Staff Educator. 

Youssef is proud of the designation. "This is huge for our community that we can now go deeper in our care," he said.

Youssef said it took a lot of work to receive certification, and Fairchild's facilities and practices were looked at "with a fine-tooth comb."

Edgerton said the stroke program provides a much-needed service to patients and families. “If the stroke program did not exist at Fairchild, many of these patients would have to be transferred to other outside area hospitals,” she said, “but by having a program like this here in our community, we are able to keep patients close to their homes, and to their families.” 

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When Youssef joined Fairchild in 2016, one of his main goals was to look at and ascertain needs in the community and ways to improve services. 

One of them was in dealing with strokes. He said with an aging population in the area and with those suffering from a stroke having to be taken to either Medford or Redding, setting up a way to provide needed stroke services at Fairchild was a priority. 

“I felt we could do something about it here,” Youssef said. “We wanted to deal with the hurdles of having patients travel 50 to 100 miles for this type of care. Traveling so far was eating away at our time window for dealing with a stroke.” 

After working with the administration to set the program up, it was initiated in 2019. 

To maintain the Primary Stroke Center Certification distinction, Fairchild must continue to keep up with new techniques and ways to deal with strokes. Youssef said the hospital is committed to continue to provide this vital and needed service in Siskiyou County. Youssef said this is just the start and believes they will continue to maintain and enhance this program. 

He commended everyone at the hospital for stepping up and making the program fully operational and to earn this certification. And, Youssef added, he was impressed that they were able to accomplish all of this while dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. 

 “It was extremely difficult to do, but we did it,” Youssef said. “It’s a big accomplishment for us ... I’m so proud to end a year like this with an extraordinary accomplishment. It’s nice that we get to celebrate this achievement in the midst of this misery with COVID. I cannot applaud everyone enough that helped us achieve this.” 

He specifically commended Edgerton for her work and efforts in making this program such a success. 

“She holds it all together,” Youssef said. 

Edgerton saidd that patients and the community have been thankful a program like this now exists in Siskiyou County.  

“It has eliminated many long trips out of town for doctor visits and overall patient satisfaction is high,” she said. “The community members that we have been able to speak with are excited to hear all about what FMC has to offer, and are eager to spread the word to family and friends about how to spot a stroke, and that FMC is here and ready to care for anyone experiencing those symptoms.” 

Edgerton moved to Yreka with her family from Houston, Texas in October of 2019 to work at Fairchild. She said the experience “has been welcoming and has really felt like coming home. Setting up and running the Stroke Program with Dr. Youssef has been challenging and rewarding and we are so excited that all of the hard work has paid off.”