My name is Sam Hurley, and I currently serve as the State Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Director within the Bureau of EMS (Maine EMS) at the Maine Department of Public Safety. I have the privilege of serving on the Maine Stroke Alliance (MSA) Board in an ex-officio voting position based on my role within the state.
Personally, cardiovascular disease and strokes have deeply impacted my life as my father suffered a series of hemorrhagic strokes in early 2014 that left him permanently disabled and in need of around-the-clock care in North Carolina. I wholly understand the immense burden that increased morbidity and mortality from victims of stroke events and their families endure. So I’m fully invested in developing a system of care to support those patients and their families in the State of Maine.
I come to this position with a clinical background as a paramedic and EMS educator and graduate-level education in public health. I hope we can use the collaborative environment of the MSA to develop a more robust system of care throughout the State of Maine to care for individuals at risk for cerebrovascular incidents, victims of, and those recovering from strokes. This includes incorporating comprehensive preventative education, educational resources for clinical staff, and support mechanisms that engross stroke victims and their families following strokes. Developing this system of care will require significant collaboration between a variety of partners, including, but not limited to, public health professionals, primary care physicians, EMS, cardiology partners, neurology partners, hospitals, specialty care centers, psychological support resources, and rehabilitation specialists. The vision is to create a system where we ultimately avoid strokes; however, when one occurs, the patient and their family flow into a system that provides the highest quality care, no matter the individual’s location.
This is undoubtedly a daunting charge for the stroke system of care to accomplish; however, I would argue that we are well on our way within the State of Maine. Many primary care physicians and physician groups are working to implement protocols that help to minimize stroke risk, including the use of statins and recommendations regarding lifestyle changes. Maine EMS has adopted protocols in alignment with the most up-to-date National Model EMS Guidelines that incorporate validated, evidence-based out-of-hospital screening tools for persons experiencing stroke-like symptoms. Hospitals and stroke specialty care centers continue to strengthen their response to stroke activations and minimize the time from notification of a stroke to administration of lifesaving medications or advanced procedures to mitigate stroke morbidity and mortality. Finally, rehabilitation specialists have been working to improve and expand stroke rehabilitation programming throughout the state to ensure that victims of strokes regain the highest quality of life possible following their stroke.
Looking forward, I certainly see the role of the MSA as advocating for further advancement of the stroke system of care in Maine. I’m optimistic that the MSA can encourage the Maine Legislature to adopt a designation process for healthcare facilities in Maine that meet specific benchmarks regarding readiness to treat and manage patients experiencing strokes. MSA is also uniquely positioned to offer templated protocols and order sets for healthcare professionals from all domains related to managing persons at increased stroke risk, suffering from an acute stroke, or recovering following a stroke. I’m hopeful that during my time with MSA, we can expand on these objectives and further support a robust system of care throughout the State of Maine for persons at-risk or who have experienced a stroke. I’m equally excited about the partnerships this Alliance offers EMS clinicians throughout the state and the opportunity for EMS to be truly recognized as an integral component of this system of care.