Stroke care arrives in Montana; population growth forcing health systems to improvise

When Marilee Bryan experienced uncharacteristic confusion at her Livingston home, her nephew suspected she may be having a stroke. After multiple visits to the critical access hospital in her hometown, Bryan, 74, was transferred to Billings Clinic where Dr. Vance Fredrickson took over her care.

Fredrickson specializes in cerebral vascular surgery and neurovascular surgery which involves the treatment of all blood vessel diseases supplying the brain and spine. He also performs skull-based surgery to treat various tumors at the base of the skull.

A recent push to bring stroke care to Montana has resulted in specialized services that were previously difficult to access in the state. Multiple experts are now practicing in Montana to bring care closer to home and eliminate the need for air transfers out of state. For those who have large strokes, time is of the essence and a six-hour delay or more can result in huge neurological deficits, Fredrickson said. For those with aneurysms, rapid decline could occur during travel.

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St. Vincent Healthcare also launched a new stroke center in Oct. 2021, bringing expertise from around the country to increase survivability and quality of life for those

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