Original Article

Availability of Hospital Resources and Specialty Services for Stroke Care in North Carolina

Authors: Mehul D. Patel, PhD, Gilson Honvoh, MSPH, Antonio R. Fernandez, PhD, Rhonda Cadena, MD, Emma R. Kelly, BSPH, Philip McDaniel, MA, Jane H. Brice, MD, MPH


Objectives: Effective regionalization of acute stroke care requires assessment and coordination of limited hospital resources. We described the availability of stroke-specific hospital resources (neurology specialty physicians and neuro-intensive care unit [neuro-ICU] bed capacity) for North Carolina overall and by region and population density. We also assessed daily trends in hospital bed availability.

Methods: This statewide descriptive study was conducted with data from the State Medical Asset Resource Tracking Tool (SMARTT), a Web-based system used by North Carolina to track available medical resources within the state. The SMARTT system was queried for stroke-specific physician and bed resources at each North Carolina hospital during a 1-year period (June 2015–May 2016), including daily availability of neuro-ICU beds. We compared hospital resources by geographic region and population density (metropolitan, urban, and rural).

Results: Data from 108 acute care hospitals located in 75 of 100 counties in North Carolina were included in the analysis. Fifty-seven percent of hospitals had no neurology specialty physicians. Western and eastern North Carolina had the lowest prevalence of these physicians. Most hospitals (88%) had general ICUs, whereas only 17 hospitals (16%) had neuro-ICUs. Neuro-ICUs were concentrated in metropolitan areas and in central North Carolina. On average, there were 276 general ICU and 27 neuro-ICU beds available statewide each day. Daily neuro-ICU bed availability was lowest in eastern and southeastern regions and during the week compared with weekends.

Conclusions: In North Carolina, stroke-specific hospital subspecialists and resources are not distributed evenly across the state. Daily bed availability, particularly in neuro-ICUs, is lacking in rural areas and noncentral regions and appears to decrease on weekdays. Regionalization of stroke care needs to consider the geographic distribution and daily variability of hospital resources.
Posted in: Neurology6

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