Helping you live your best life

Skip main navigation
Group Created with Sketch.

Need help

What can we help you find?

Related Search Terms

Related Search Results


What is VCU Health doing to make Richmond “Stroke Smart”?

The Stroke Smart Richmond public health initiative launched in January 2023 and aims to educate all Richmond residents on the signs and symptoms of stroke.

medical center aerials 2014 VCU Health has partnered with the city and community organizations to education Richmonders on the signs and symptoms of stroke. (VCU Enterprise Marketing and Communications)

By Sara McCloskey

Every second counts when it comes to helping the 1 in 6 Americans who suffer from a stroke in their lifetime.

Sometimes called a “brain attack,” a stroke happens when something blocks the blood supply to part of the brain or when a blood vessel in the brain bursts. After experiencing a stroke, an individual can have lasting brain damage, long-term disability or die.

As part of a community effort to spread awareness about this medical emergency, VCU Health united with the City of Richmond and partner organizations this year to join the Stroke Smart City campaign.

"With stroke, every minute counts. Recognizing that you or someone you are with is having a stroke as soon as symptoms appear can make the difference between life and death,” Venkata Ramana Feeser, M.D., an emergency medicine physician at VCU Medical Center and a lead on the Stroke Smart City campaign, said. “As part of our Stroke Smart Richmond campaign, it all comes down to Spot a Stroke, Stop a Stroke (call 911), Save a Life."

The Stroke Smart initiative started in the commonwealth with the Stroke Smart Virginia campaign. Since its launch in 2021, many communities throughout Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania have also become involved. with this public health initiative. The public health initiative emphasizes the importance of teaching community members how to spot a stroke and the importance of calling 911 immediately so individuals suffering from a stroke can receive hospital-level care quicker.


Why is it important for Richmond to specifically be involved in the Stroke Smart City initiative?

Richmond is a closely watched city as the state capital, so having this initiative embedded in the community’s priorities sends a message to all Virginians about the importance of this health issue.

There is also a considerable need for education around strokes in Richmond because the city has seen higher rates of hospitalizations and death caused by this medical emergency in recent years compared to the rest of the commonwealth and nation.

According to the Virginia Department of Health, there are higher rates of death due to stroke in Richmond and other urban regions of Virginia, particularly Hampton, Pittsylvania, Danville, Portsmouth, Southside, and Norfolk. The hospitalization rate for stroke in the City of Richmond is 29 per 1,000 hospitalizations in 2021, compared to a lower rate of 26 per 1,000 hospitalizations in 2020.

The sooner someone can identify that they or a loved one is having a stroke, the quicker they can receive treatment that could reduce the impacts of this neurological attack on the brain. Medical professionals highlight that receiving care within 3 to 4 hours once symptoms of a stroke begin can greatly improve health outcomes, since some medicines are only effective during that time span.

What makes VCU Health a unique partner for this campaign?

VCU Health is a recognized regional and national leader in stroke care, education and research as the first certified Comprehensive Stroke Center in Virginia. More than one-third of stroke patients admitted to VCU Medical Center are transferred from other hospitals to receive care from our teams, who are nationally ranked as “high performing” for their advanced services for both routine and complex stroke patients.

Our stroke center is integrated into our academic medical center and has established residency and fellowship programs in a variety of specialties, including adult, pediatrics, stroke neuroimaging, neuro critical care and an outpatient stroke prevention clinic. Research is regularly incorporated into the work of our providers. They’re engaged in studies on campus and participate each year in the VCU Comprehensive Stroke Symposium. Some of our patients are also involved in clinical trials which help us discover new and innovative treatments to reduce the risk of stroke.

What is VCU Health doing to make Richmond "Stroke Smart”?

VCU Health is spearheading this initiative, in partnership with the City of Richmond, Virginia Department of Health and the Richmond and Henrico Health Districts, and with reaching out to as many people in the city as possible with this life saving information.

We are working with partner organizations who provide services to specific age groups that may be at higher risk of suffering from a stroke, such as older adults. Educational materials are being shared throughout the city, including a public safety announcement (PSA) created in January when this initiative was launched. Along with materials distributed online and through social media, our team is also in the process of developing in-person educational programming.

How can others get involved with the Stroke Smart City initiative?

A great way to get involved is by educating yourself on the signs and symptoms of a stroke. Several articles are available on VCU Health’s website as well as the Stroke Smart Richmond PSA.

If you or your organization would like to participate in future stroke training and educational programming, reach out to Rachel Shelton, the VCU Comprehensive Stroke Center program coordinator, at rachel.shelton@vcuhealth.org.