LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – In the southern part of the country, including Arkansas, stroke death rates are 10% higher than the national average. A program at Baptist Health is working to reduce that number.

When it comes to surviving a stroke, minutes and even seconds can make all the difference.

“With anything brain, time matters,” Baptist Health Stroke Medical Director Dr. Sushrut Dharmadhikari said.

What patients need once they get to the hospital is a good group of doctors, nurses and healthcare workers ready to take action.

“It involves a lot of effort, a lot of work,” Dharmadhikari said. “It involves a big group, a big team.”

He said at Baptist Health Medical Center in Little Rock, they have just that, earning a Comprehensive Stroke Certification.

“To provide the highest level of care for stroke patients that can be provided by any institution in the country,” Dharmadhikari said.

There are only 297 centers out of more than six thousand with that recognition, in part given because of the various services for different kinds of strokes.

“That being ischemic stroke, hemorrhagic stroke, subarachnoid bleeds,” Dharmadhikari said.

Dharmadhikari said it couldn’t be done without the staff.

“Nurse practitioners, neurologists, neuro interventionalists, neurosurgeons that are able to all be part of a big team,” Dharmadhikari said.

He said they can also help patients not just in Little Rock but across the state.

“If they’re able to identify a stroke patient that needs a higher level of care, we work closely with our MedFlight systems, with EMS to try and bring those patients here as quickly as possible to provide the best level of care that we can provide,” Dharmadhikari said.

It’s giving more and more people a better chance at survival.

“We’re able to really take care of every single stroke patient that is able to come to our door in the best possible manner,” Dharmadhikari said.

Baptist also has a monthly stroke support group offered virtually and in person. They offer stroke education monthly as well.