Adelaide nurse takes out award ahead of National Stroke Week

Adelaide nurse Lizzie Dodd has been recognised for her extraordinary long-term dedication and commitment to stroke, winning the Stroke Foundation and Stroke Society of Australasia (SSA) 2018 Stroke Care Champion Award.

Working from the Royal Adelaide Hospital, the Stroke Nurse Consultant has been instrumental in driving patient improvements across South Australia.

The award was handed out in front of hundreds of health professionals at the Stroke 2018: Bridging the continuum conference held in Sydney in August.

Almost 40 health professionals were nominated for the award, including neurologists, stroke nurses, occupational therapists, speech therapists and researchers.

Miss Dodd was described as someone who demonstrated remarkable compassion, dedication, insight and empathy – consistently going above and beyond her regular duties to deliver excellent care to patients and their families. She was recognised as ensuring decisions regarding acute stroke management are made quickly and correctly in a smooth and efficient manner.

Miss Dodd said it was very humbling to be singled out for “just doing my job”.

“I am part of a team where we are all champions in making sure patients receive the best and fastest hyper-acute care on arrival to hospital.

‘I love the work I do and the difference I can make to someone’s recovery and treatment options. To be viewed as an inspiration to some of my colleagues makes me walk taller and try harder.”

Miss Dodd came to Australia in 2005, after working for 10 years in South London on an acute stroke unit she set up. She was tasked with setting up a 12-bed stroke unit at the Queen Elizabeth II Hospital in 2007 which rapidly expanded from a Monday to Friday service to 24 hours a day.

A re-direction in SA Health called Transferring Health resulted in the amalgamation of the QEII and the Royal Adelaide Hospital in 2015. Since then Miss Dodd and another nurse consultant had been instrumental in revamping the new RAH service as well as in the transition from the old RAH to the new RAH.

The streamlined service means the stroke team meets the patient at the door as they arrive by ambulance.

“We often bypass the ED and go straight to CT for imaging. We are the only hospital in SA that does clot retrieval, and we do about 22-25 a month.

“If you think of the big motorways in your brain as being blocked. If the brain is keeping itself alive by using the side roads and dirt tracks then we can go in and remove the blockage for up to 24 hours. It used to be six hours.”

Miss Dodd said every day was new and exciting, with many challenges and complex patients.

“Our aim is to save the brain and get them to the acute stroke unit as quickly as possible.

“The research shows that those cared for in stroke care units are a lot more likely to survive and have fewer complications such as chest infections and pneumonia, and better patient outcomes.”

More than 5,000 strokes are expected to occur in South Australia this year alone.

With National Stroke Week 3-9 September, Miss Dodd said it was important health professionals remembered that stroke prevention was better than cure.

“Be aware of your patient’s stroke risk factors, in particular BP management. We are in a position that no one in a hospital should have a BP of 160-170 systolic and have no treatment – it is not acceptable. These people should really be considered for secondary prevention.

“For people with AF, aspirin is not enough. They need to be on an anticoagulant. They are at risk of cardiac thrombus which will cause a stroke. AF can be managed with an appropriate anticoagulant, we are no longer reliant on warfarin.

“We should be pushing exercise that is doable for our patients. Walking is great exercise – for people to get out every day, rather than using the car every time.”

For more information on National Stroke Week or to register visit


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