Ten years ago, Emily Parks was a critical care nurse at Hugh Chatham Memorial Hospital when her 22-year-old sister came to the hospital as a stroke patient. That experience, including her sister’s inspiring recovery, helped Parks realize the vital role nurses play in stroke prevention through education and screening, and in helping stroke patients to regain as much physical and mental capability as possible.
Parks, now director of the hospital’s Joint Commission certified Stroke Center, recently achieved a rare accomplishment — becoming a Stroke Certified Registered Nurse. Among the more than three million active registered nurses in the United States, fewer than one percent — only 1,300 nationwide and 430 in North Carolina — have passed an examination and received five-year certification from the American Board of Neuroscience Nursing as a Stroke Certified Registered Nurse (SCRN).
Caring for stroke patients is complex and involves careful coordination by a multidisciplinary team of physicians, nurses, physical and speech therapists, and others.
“I pursued this credential because I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it, and because I am committed to doing my part to make a difference to help stroke patients,” Parks said.
A graduate of Surry Community College with an associate degree in applied science-nursing, Parks also has a specialized nursing credential in Critical Care (CCRN). She is now pursuing her next goal, a bachelor of science degree in nursing.
Parks is part of Hugh Chatham Memorial Hospital’s stroke care team that recently received “Get With the Guidelines Gold Plus” and “Target Stroke Honor Roll” recognition from the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association. Of the more than 100 hospitals in North Carolina, 31 are Certified Primary Stroke Centers. Of those, only 11 have received the Gold Plus award, and eight have the Target Stroke Honor Roll recognition.
North Carolina is part of the stroke belt — a region of 12 states in the southeastern United States that has a higher incidence of strokes than other parts of the country. Every 40 seconds, someone has a stroke and it’s the leading cause of long-term disability in the United States.