Spectrum Health Offers Free Stroke Screenings

Spectrum Health is recognizing Stroke Awareness Month (May) by offering free stroke screening events in its Grand Rapids hospitals on May 19 and 20. At the screenings, Spectrum Health staff will provide a reminder of the warning signs of a stroke and check blood pressure. High blood pressure is a leading risk factor for strokes.

No appointment is necessary for these events. The screening schedule is as follows:

Blodgett Hospital – main lobby
1840 Wealthy SE
Tuesday, May 19
11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Butterworth Hospital – main lobby
100 Michigan NE
Wednesday, May 20
11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Stroke continues to be the third leading cause of death in the United States. A stroke is a sudden loss of blood circulation to an area of the brain, resulting in the loss of neurological function. Eighty percent of strokes are preventable.

“People need to respond quickly if they think they may be experiencing a stroke,” said Dr. Herman Sullivan, medical director, Spectrum Health Neurosciences – Butterworth Hospital. “Every minute counts.”

Patients who seek treatment at Spectrum Health are met by a stroke response team comprised of physicians, specially trained stroke nurses and pharmacists. Acute ischemic strokes, caused by thrombosis or embolism, can be treated with the FDA-approved drug tPA (Tissue Plasminogen Activator).The drug helps to break down clots and is statistically proven to be effective in minimizing neurological damage from stroke. Because it needs to be given within a certain window of time after a stroke occurs, only a small percentage of stroke patients receive this drug.

The warning signs of stroke include:

  • Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
  • Sudden confusion, difficulty speaking or understanding
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
  • Sudden, severe headache with no known cause

Both Blodgett and Butterworth hospitals have been as designated advance primary stroke centers by the Joint Commission since 2004. Spectrum Health continues to provide stroke care for more patients than any other hospital in the region, treating more than 1,000 patients a year.

Stroke is also a leading cause of serious, long-term disability. Because prompt treatment is so important to stroke survival and recovery, Spectrum Health encourages people who notice any of the symptoms of stroke in themselves or another person to call 911 immediately. More information is available at

Watch an interview with Dr. Herman Sullivan about the ways to identify a stroke and how to prevent it on Spectrum Health TV.

Spectrum Health is a not-for-profit health system in West Michigan that offers a full continuum of care through the Spectrum Health Hospital Group, a collection of seven hospitals and more than 140 service sites; the Spectrum Health Medical Group, a multispecialty team of nearly 100 providers; and Priority Health, a health plan with nearly 500,000 members. Spectrum Health’s 14,000 employees, 1,500 medical staff members and 2,000 volunteers are committed to delivering the highest quality care to those in medical need.  The organization provided $111.1 million in community benefit during its 2008 fiscal year. As a system, Spectrum Health has earned more than 100 awards during the past 10 years.