Frequently Asked Questions 

Stroke 101

What is a stroke? What are the symptoms?

A stroke occurs when blood flow to the brain is stopped, preventing the brain from receiving the oxygen necessary for brain cells to survive. The acronym BE FAST can help you recognize symptoms of stroke and help save lives:

B – Balance problems
E – Eyes/vision problems
F – Face drooping
A – Arm weakness
S – Speech difficulty
T – Time to call 9-1-1

What Steps Should You Take During a Stroke?

If you or a loved one are experiencing a stroke, call 9-1-1. This is a medical emergency and treatment should not be delayed.

Learn More

Stroke Treatment and Technology

Is stroke care available at all Munson Healthcare hospitals?

Munson Medical Center in Traverse City currently serves as the regional stroke center for northern Michigan. Additionally, Munson Healthcare hospitals in Cadillac, Charlevoix, Gaylord, Grayling, Frankfort, Kalkaska, and Manistee have protocols and processes in place to quickly diagnose and evaluate a stroke.

Learn more about local interventional stroke care.

What procedures will Munson Medical Center’s new stroke program provide that weren’t offered before?

Prior to launching the stroke program, patients throughout northern Michigan could receive blood clot-busting medication before being transferred to another hospital for interventional care. Now, patients can receive mechanical intervention (the gold standard of effective treatment) and a variety of procedures including angiograms and thrombectomies.

Learn more about these procedures.

What are “Biplane Imaging Labs?”

Biplane Imaging is one of the most advanced interventional medical imaging technologies available. This equipment utilizes two rotating cameras – one on each side of the patient – to take simultaneous images and produce highly-detailed images of blood vessels, soft tissue, and blood flow in real-time.

Biplane Imaging provides clearer, more detailed views of the brain and blood vessels than previous technology. Biplane Imaging also limits exposure to radiation for patients and clinicians by up to 50 percent. 

What makes this technology leading-edge?

The versatile Biplane technology means our medical teams can provide comprehensive care for even the most complex of scenarios, and respond faster to the needs of our communities. 

What is the cost of a Biplane Imaging Lab?

The addition of a second Biplane Lab will cost Munson Healthcare more than $2 million.

Our Stroke Program

What is a “Comprehensive Stroke Center” and why is Munson Medical Center pursuing this designation?

A Comprehensive Stroke Center is the best-equipped hospital in a given geographical area for treating stroke or stroke complications. Since northern Michigan sees higher than average stroke rates, we want to ensure our patients have access to the best possible care, close to home.

This certification requires an extensive team of highly trained staff, innovative technology and equipment, and facilities to match. It also requires education, outreach, and medical advancement performed by our hospital.

Currently, Munson Medical Center is certified as a Primary Stroke Center and is recognized as a regional stroke center for northern Michigan.

How many patients could benefit from a stroke program?

There were 916 stroke patients across northern Michigan in 2019. While 43 percent of these patients received care at a Munson Healthcare facility, 57 percent received care elsewhere. This means roughly 522 patients in northern Michigan would have benefitted from a state-of-the-art Comprehensive Stroke Center (CSC) close to home. 

Why is a program of this caliber necessary for northern Michigan? 

When a stroke occurs, time is of the essence. Every minute that passes can lead to long-term disability or fatality. The two closest stroke care facilities are over 100 miles away and can take up to four hours in travel time, even with favorable conditions. Time delays and distance between stroke onset and treatment can contribute to the decrease in the quality of life post-treatment.

Bringing life-saving equipment and techniques close to home will not only allow for faster intervention, but increase the scope of care possible for stroke patients.  

What is the timeline for enhancing stroke care at Munson Medical Center?

2012: Munson Medical Center was designated as a Primary Stroke Center by the Joint Commission, providing clot-busting medicine to patients.


  • In January 2020, Munson Medical Center partnered with Michigan Medicine for training and support in transitioning to a Comprehensive Stroke Center with interventional stroke capabilities.
  • In June 2020, Endovascular Neurosurgeon Gary Rajah, MD, joined Munson Medical Center as the lead for development of the stroke program.
  • In August 2020, interventional stroke procedures began at Munson Medical Center.
  • In October 2020, on World Stroke Day, Munson Medical Center announced the launch of its new Endovascular Stroke Program and unveiled its first Biplane imaging machine.

2021: Munson Healthcare Foundations is seeking community support to help purchase a second Biplane imaging machine and continue advancing the stroke program at Munson Medical Center.

How You Can Help

Medical emergencies are often overlooked until they impact us personally. Many of us have not considered how dangerous time delays are and how critical it is to receive efficient treatment upon the onset of a stroke.

A project of this magnitude will require an immense amount of community support. Approximately $5 million raised through philanthropy is necessary to bring this program to northern Michigan.

Every gift, no matter the size, helps ensure you and your loved ones have access to comprehensive stroke care close to home. 

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