Letter to the Editor

I am a Stroke Survivor

To the Editor:

My name is Jessica Diaz. I am a 15 year resident of Charlestown and a Stroke Survivor.

More than 2,000 Massachusetts residents die from stroke every year and even more are left with long-term disabilities. In many cases, this could be prevented. The key is ensuring stroke patients get to the right hospital as quickly as possible.

This is not happening in Massachusetts.

That’s why I’m calling on House Speaker Robert DeLeo to schedule a vote on Senate Bill 2835, “An Act to Prevent Death and Disability from Stroke.” This bill would ensure stroke patients immediately get the care that could save their lives and prevent disability.

In Massachusetts, first responders are required by law to take stroke patients to the closest hospital, regardless of the stroke’s severity. Unfortunately, the closest hospital may not be the hospital best equipped to treat them.

The legislation passed by the state Senate in July would ensure patients experiencing the most severe cases of stroke are transported to hospitals capable of performing procedures to remove the blood clot causing the stroke, restore blood supply to the brain, and save threatened tissue.

I personally know how important this is.

I suffered a stroke seven years ago at the age of 36. I am extremely fortunate that I live in Charlestown and very close to a hospital equipped to diagnose and treat stroke quickly. Because of the amazing care I received and accurate diagnoses, I made a full recovery. As a mother of two young children, I am so grateful.  Unfortunately, that is not the case for many people experiencing stroke. Stroke can be very challenging to diagnose and treat, that is why many who do not get sent to the right hospital do not get the care they need which can result in a delayed recovery, or no recovery at all.

This bill is especially crucial as we deal with the coronavirus pandemic.

With Massachusetts hospitals seeing an increase in patients due to COVID-19, it is critical that stroke patients are taken to the proper hospital first. Any delays in transferring a patient from one hospital to another could be catastrophic. Moreover, because some racial/ethnic groups, such as African Americans, are more likely to die from stroke, it is imperative that nothing prevents them from getting the best treatment right away.

In the United States, someone has a stroke every 40 seconds. Getting the right treatment immediately may minimize the long-term effects of a stroke and even prevent death. With the leadership of our state lawmakers, we can save lives and prevent disability. 

Jessica Diaz

Sullivan Street

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