HOUSTON (April 23, 2020)

Memorial Hermann is encouraging the Houston community to seek care if they are experiencing stroke symptoms. As Memorial Hermann prepared for a potential surge in COVID-19 cases, proactive steps were taken and measures are in place to safeguard patients with acute medical conditions, such as stroke, from coronavirus exposure.

Over the last four weeks, Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center has seen a decline of roughly 30% in stroke admissions at the Comprehensive Stroke Center. The decline in admissions can likely be attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic, as there is no evidence to suggest the number of strokes are declining.  This has led physicians and healthcare workers to conclude people experiencing stroke symptoms are opting to stay home rather than visiting the Emergency Center for fear of exposure.

“We know people want to be careful right now because of the pandemic,” said Elizabeth Noser, MD, a neurologist with McGovern Medical School at UT Health. “In the case of a stroke, staying home may ultimately worsen the outcome, and prevent people from accessing necessary care and rehabilitation.”

The issue has the potential to compound the existing public health crisis. “When someone suffers a stroke and avoids the hospital, it increases the likelihood for lasting effects, including disability,” said Sean Savitz, MD, director of the UTHealth Institute for Stroke and Cerebrovascular Disease and the Vascular Neurology Program at McGovern Medical School.

“We need to assure people, if they are having symptoms of a stroke or other serious conditions, they need to call 9-1-1 and not avoid medical attention,” added Savitz, who is director of the Stroke Program at Memorial Hermann-TMC.

As COVID-19 has spread across the globe, avoiding necessary medical care has become a growing topic. Memorial Hermann wants to remind the Houston community that Memorial Hermann Stroke Centers are prepared, as always to safely provide acute stroke care. Avoidance can be dangerous, even deadly, so if you are experiencing stroke symptoms please visit your nearest Emergency Center or call 9-1-1 immediately.