North Dakota Mission: Lifeline

Mindy Cook, BSN
Senior Director, Quality and Systems Improvement, MN, ND, WI

American Heart Association, Midwest Affiliate
2750 Blue Water Road, Suite 250, Eagan, MN 55121
Office: (952) 278-7938
Fax: (952) 835-5828
Janna Pietrzak, RN, BSN
ND Mission: Lifeline Stroke QSI Director

American Heart Association, Midwest Affiliate
1005 Twelfth Ave SE
Jamestown, ND 58401
Phone: (701) 730-3305
Amanda Erickson
ND Mission Lifeline Stroke Survivor Network Coordinator
American Heart Association, Midwest Affiliate
1005 Twelfth Ave SE
Jamestown, ND 58401
Office: (701) 658-3049
Mobile: (701) 866-3035


Mission: Lifeline Stroke is a program for transforming stroke care by focusing efforts on connecting all of the components of acute stroke care into a smoothly integrated system that reinforces use of evidence-based guidelines, measures performance, identifies gaps, and engages in improvement projects at a systems level. The stroke system of care begins with community recognition and preparedness to identify stroke and continues all the way through hospital discharge, into rehabilitation and the initiation of secondary prevention. It brings together hospitals, ambulance services, non-transport medical first response agencies, emergency communications centers, emergency medical service regulatory and medical direction agencies, local government, local media, and payers to forge a proactive system of stroke care that saves and improves lives.

The American Heart Association and American Stroke Association (AHA/ASA) requested that its National Mission: Lifeline Stroke Committee craft a consensus algorithm that was subsequently reviewed by numerous stroke committees within the organization. This algorithm seeks to balance the benefits of rapid, early access to EVT for patients with suspected LVO with the potential harm of delayed initiation of IV Alteplase. A thorough review of current guidelines and studies was conducted to help develop the algorithm. As with any algorithm, it should augment but not replace clinician judgment and may need tailoring to address the needs of the communities that implement it.

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the number one leading cause of death in the US and North Dakota.  According to Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics—2017 Update A Report From the American Heart Association An estimated 92.1 million US adults have at least 1 type of CVD. By 2030, 43.9% of the US adult population is projected to have some form of CVD. Stroke is the second-leading cause of death in the world and a leading cause of adult disability, with ischemic strokes accounting for about 87% of all strokes. Every year, approximately 795,000 people in the United States will have a stroke. About 610,000 of these are first or new strokes. One in four are recurrent strokes. 

Time is of the essence. Two million brain cells die every minute during stroke, increasing risk of permanent brain damage, disability or death. Recognizing symptoms and acting FAST to get medical attention can save a life and limit disabilities. ND Mission: Lifeline Stroke’s innovative regional collaboration will work to ensure compatibility, consistent training and uniform protocols for both transporting and treating stroke patients across the state.

Media Highlights:

KXMB Story (5/23/17):

Radio News Results:



Our lead funder is The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust, which is providing over 75% of the funding with a grant of $4.35 million. The American Heart Association/American Stroke Association, together with participating partners, will contribute the remainder from existing and donated resources.
At last Friday’s press conference, Al Royse, national chairman of the board of the American Heart Association (and Mandan, North Dakota native) had this to say: “This is a great day for North Dakota, and especially for stroke patients and their families.  Dedicated policy makers, volunteers, and champions have already demonstrated a commitment to improving stroke care in the State.  Thanks to the vision and generosity of The Helmsley Charitable Trust, we will be able to further expand and improve stroke care reaching all patients across the state.”
Joining Al and me at the press conference were Walter Panzirer, trustee of The Helmsley Charitable Trust, North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum, legislative champion Rep. Todd Porter and Mylynn Tufte, North Dakota state health officer.

I’d like to congratulate our national and affiliate staff for their collaborative work on this project: Liza Douglas, Paul Kalil, Michelle Scharnott, Gary Myers, Mindy Cook, June Herman, Chrissy Meyer, Joe Williams, Chris Shay, Kathleen O’Neill, Kathy Hill, Liz Andrews and Tammy Lewis.  We are in the process of hiring a Mission: Lifeline Stroke director who will lead the effort in North Dakota.

The Helmsley Charitable Trust and the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association launched Mission: Lifeline in South Dakota in July 2010. From 2010 through 2016, Helmsley has committed nearly $37 million in funding for Mission: Lifeline projects in North Dakota, Wyoming, Minnesota, Nebraska, Iowa, Montana, and South Dakota. With this grant for the Mission: Lifeline Stroke project in North Dakota, the total Helmsley commitment to Mission: Lifeline projects is over $41 million.

We all know that while the training, education, peer support and data collection this funding will make possible are critical components, Mission: Lifeline Stroke is really about saving and improving the quality of lives – your father’s, your brother’s, your wife’s, your best friend’s. This collaborative effort of our foundation, hospital and government supporters will have a tremendous impact on North Dakotans for years to come. What a great day for the people of North Dakota, the Midwest Affiliate and the American Heart Association!