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Certified stroke care at Centegra

When stroke strikes, the first need is for speed. Fast action can save brain tissue, reduce disability and enhance  recovery.

As certified stroke centers, Centegra hospitals are ready to help with emergency treatment, follow-up care and rehabilitation.

“One of Centegra’s strengths is that we are able to offer so much to our stroke patients from the ER to their stays in the hospital to after they leave the hospital,” says Hsiong Chen, MD, director of stroke services. “Centegra really has a very complete package.”

Video- Stroke Treatment at Centegra


That package includes in-house neurologists, called neurohospitalists, at Centegra Hospital–McHenry and Centegra Hospital–Woodstock.

One of two neurohospitalists, either Dr. Chen or Jimmy Nguyen, MD, is always on hand or only a short distance away.

“Because we are based primarily in the hospital, we are more available for emergency issues,” says Dr. Chen.


However, stroke care doesn’t start with a neurohospitalist. It often begins when emergency medical technicians alert the hospital that a person with stroke symptoms is en route.

Video: Think FAST for Stroke

Acting on that call, emergency department staff gets ready to quickly perform blood work, brain scans and other assessments. After an exam, the ER doctor and the neurohospitalist determine if the patient is a good candidate for blood-clotbusting drugs.

These medications can be very effective at restoring blood flow to the brain if they are given within three hours of symptom onset.

“The ER staff, nurses, lab techs, everybody works as quickly as they can,” says Dr. Nguyen. “Everything must go together smoothly because every second counts.”


After the ER, a hospitalist ensures the patient’s safe transition to the next level of care as a hospital inpatient. When it’s time, the hospitalist also oversees the patient’s discharge from the hospital.
For many patients, the next stop is Centegra’s in-house rehabilitation unit. Others go home and have outpatient neuro-rehab at the Centegra Neuro-Rehabilitation Center.

In addition, most stroke survivors will see a clinic-based neurologist, such as Timothy Upchurch, MD, of Centegra Physician Care.

Such follow-up care is needed to help people control ongoing risk factors, manage medications and otherwise avoid another stroke, Dr. Upchurch says.


Despite the availability of excellent treatment at Centegra’s certified stroke centers, it’s still preferable to avoid a stroke in the first place.

“The best way to do this is to control your risk factors of high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol,” Dr.Upchurch says. Your primary care physician can help.

In addition, Centegra offers screening tests that may point to vascular problems and stroke risk. Ask your doctor if you should be tested. The screening package includes:

  • Carotid artery ultrasound
  • Ankle-brachial index
  • Electrocardiogram


Whatever your personal stroke risk, be ready to act fast if you or someone near you shows signs of a stroke. Symptoms include sudden:

  • Drooping on one side of the face
  • Trouble speaking
  • Numbness or weakness in one arm or leg
  • Confusion or severe headache

If you see these signs, call 911 immediately. Remember, Centegra is ready to help. Call 877-CENTEGRA to schedule a $129 vascular screening, or visit to learn more.