Editor, Townsman:

More than 2,000 Massachusetts residents die from stroke every year and even more are left with long-term disabilities. It doesn’t have to be this way.

In Massachusetts, first responders are required by law to take stroke patients to the closest hospital, regardless of the stroke’s severity. Unfortunately, the closest hospital is not always the best hospital.

In July, the Massachusetts Senate passed a bill (S.B. 2835) that would change this law by ensuring patients experiencing the most severe cases of stroke are transported to hospitals capable of performing procedures to remove the blood clot causing the stroke, restore blood supply to the brain and save threatened tissue. I am urging House Speaker Robert DeLeo to schedule a vote on this bill.

I personally know how important it is. I suffered a stroke 12 days after my twins were born via C-section. The local hospital that I was transported to via first responders was ill-equipped to handle a stroke patient who had recently had a major abdominal surgery.

Thankfully, my husband advocated for an immediate transfer to another hospital better versed in handling difficult cases, and as a result the stroke was managed properly.

As a result, today I have made a full recovery and have no issues keeping up with very active 4-year-old twins.

It is critical that stroke patients like me get proper medical attention immediately. With the leadership of our state lawmakers, we can minimize the long-term effects of stroke and prevent death.

Melissa Bevelaqua



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