Novant Health prepares to open neurosciences institute in New Hanover County

Novant Health prepares to open neurosciences institute in New Hanover County
Published: Jan. 25, 2023 at 5:59 PM EST
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - Patients recovering from strokes and other brain-related illnesses and injuries will soon be able to access a new specialty care center in southeastern North Carolina.

Officials cut the ribbon for the new Novant Health Neurosciences Institute - New Hanover Wednesday. The facility is a five-story extension of the hospital and surgical pavilion.

The 108,000-square-foot complex will provide several crucial resources including stroke, spine, and neurological care. This includes stroke treatment and care that saved a Brunswick County man’s life last year.

George Richards was playing a round of golf in September 2022 when he noticed something was off.

“I was on the sixth hole. I was ready to hit my second shot and my left arm did not work,” Richards said.

His friend, Michael Davisson, recognized that Richards may be having a stroke.

“Being in the right place at the right time, in my instance, because I knew what the stroke looked like in my head,” Davisson said. “My [family member] had a stroke, so I kind of knew it.”

Richards’ son suffered a stroke when he was 10 years old. His son and wife now run a nonprofit organization aimed to help stroke survivors. Despite Richards’ experience and knowledge, he did not know what was happening.

“It made me feel that maybe I’m not as educated as I thought with stroke,” he said, “That I should have taken action sooner.”

Medical Director Dr. James McKinney says the addition of 108 hospital beds, including several ICU beds and new operating rooms, will better help stroke patients recover from specialized treatment.

“Those treatments have been shown to really improve patient’s recovery, minimize disability, after which they’re typically followed in ICU for about 24 hours and then they get to the stroke unit,” McKinney said. “And once they’re there, we finish working out why they had the stroke, get on them appropriate medications to lower the risk of recurrent stroke, [and] get them evaluated by physical and occupational and speech therapists.”

As McKinney explains, having state-of-the-art equipment and first-class facilities will help to save countless lives, which is especially important for the region.

“In the southeast U.S., we consider it the stroke belt. There is higher incidence of stroke, there is higher mortality of stroke,” he said. “In New Hanover County, stroke is the third-leading cause of death.”

The facility will officially open on Feb. 1.