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DOWNEY - The RTH Stroke Foundation has done hundreds of seminars and screenings in Los Angeles and Orange County, so when they scheduled a Stroke Prevention Seminar featuring free carotid artery screenings from 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. on Feb. 27 in Downey, they knew what to expect.
But when a front-page story in The Downey Patriot about the event was published, the RTH Stroke Foundation phone began to ring. And ring. And ring.
"The phone never stopped ringing all day," said RTH Stroke Foundation Office Manager Joanne Massaglia. "We got 80 registrations that first day, which is four times more than we ever received in one day. My colleagues Janet French, Alyson Peterson and Guy Navarro were also amazed by the response by the citizens of Downey to this free event, because every slot for the seminar was filled by the time we went home that Friday night. Nothing like this had ever happened to us before."
The record-breaking response was exciting news for the RTH Stroke Foundation and its partners for a new Primary Stroke Prevention initiative in Downey, the Rancho Los Amigos Foundation, Rio Hondo Event Center and The Downey Patriot.
"We were thrilled that so many people wanted to attend this seminar," said RTH Stroke Foundation President and Downey native Deborah Massaglia. "The response shows that Mayor Mario Guerra was right when he said that the citizens of Downey are truly interested in improving their health."
As the weekend progressed, the telephone continued to ring. And when Joanne and Janet checked the RTH Stroke Foundation message machine Monday morning, it was filled with an additional 65 calls from people hoping to attend the event.
"Luckily, Mark Shelton of Rio Hondo, who is providing the space, audio visual and refreshments for the event at no cost, was able to give us the second of his three rooms so that we had room to accommodate 180 people," RTH Stroke Foundation Executive Director Guy Navarro said. "We are very grateful for Mark's public-spirited support, because providing these extra carotid artery screenings could save someone's life."
But the citizens of the greater Downey area weren't done. When reservations reached 180 two days later, there again was no space for additional attendees. So Mark added the third room, which meant that the Stroke Prevention Seminar would use every inch of space in the Event Center's ballroom.
226 reservations so far
A total of 226 people have registered for the event. "This is nearly three times as many as we've ever had for one of our seminars," Deborah said. "The response from the community is tremendous."
"This is a great opportunity for people to learn how to avoid having a stroke and to get a free and potentially life-saving carotid artery screening, which can cost as much as $500 in a doctor's office," Mayor Guerra said. "We are very thankful to the RTH Stroke Foundation, Rancho Los Amigos Foundation, Rio Hondo Event Center and The Downey Patriot for making this important seminar available for free to the citizens of Downey."
Additional seminar slots open
"I am pleased to announce that we have just opened another 150 slots for the event," Deborah said. "We suggest that anyone who is interested in attending should call (888) 794-9466 to register as soon as possible. Based on what we have seen so far, these slots will be filled soon."
Rancho CEO Jorge Orozco put the importance of stroke prevention into focus: "Stroke is so prevalent in our community that more than two-thirds of new Rancho patients come to the hospital because of a stroke," he said. "Our clinicians recommend that everyone learn more about preventing a stroke, not only for their own health, but also for health of those they love."
"Stroke is highly preventable," Deborah said. "In fact, more than 80% of strokes can be prevented. The mission of the RTH Stroke Foundation is to do everything possible to help people avoid having a stroke."
Legacy of Roxanna Todd Hodges
The RTH Stroke Foundation is named for Roxanna Todd Hodges, a community leader who suffered several major strokes. Her understanding of the critical need for Stroke awareness and treatment advances led her to establish the Foundation in 1996. Her last words spoken before she passed away in 2011 were "Strike out stroke wherever you can."
Last year the RTH Stroke Foundation announced a $6-million gift to establish the Roxanna Todd Hodges Comprehensive Stroke Clinic and the Roxanna Todd Hodges Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA) program at USC's Keck School of Medicine. The clinic will provide a multidisciplinary approach to the diagnosis, treatment and care of patients experiencing stroke or acute neurological events and related conditions. It also will encompass outpatient care, inpatient care and research.
"Stroke is the leading cause of disability in this country, more than motor vehicle accidents or Alzheimer's disease or any other condition," Deborah said. "Yet stroke is a very preventable disease.
"That's why we're so proud to be involved with our partners in creating a highly effective long-term program of stroke education and prevention," she said. "We invite all our friends in this wonderful city to join us on this exciting journey to better health!"
Published: February 21, 2013 - Volume 11 - Issue 45