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News and Information
November 12, 2009
St. Joseph Medical Center Stroke Program is First in South Sound to Earn Gold Seal From National Organization
St. Joseph Medical Center has become the first hospital in Tacoma and Pierce County to be designated as a primary stroke center by The Joint Commission, a national accrediting organization whose staff conducted a comprehensive on-site program review in late October.
On Oct. 31, the medical center's stroke intervention and recovery program received Joint Commission's Gold Seal of Approval - the highest approval possible - and earned the elite certification as a Primary Stroke Center.
Achieving Joint Commission certification signals that stroke treatment at St. Joseph is distinguished by the clinical quality and staff expertise necessary to achieve successful outcomes for patients. "St. Joseph demonstrated that its stroke care program follows national standards and guidelines that can significantly improve outcomes for stroke patients," says Jean E. Range, executive director of The Joint Commission's disease-specific care certification program.
"The Joint Commission's Primary Stroke Center certification recognizes our commitment to providing outstanding care to patients from throughout our community," said Gena Kreiner, the stroke program coordinator at St. Joseph. "We're proud to achieve this distinction." St. Joseph Medical Center is the leading provider of acute and preventive stroke care in the South Puget Sound region. Its highly trained physicians, nurses and other specialists use the most advanced technology and techniques in comprehensive treatment of stroke, clots and potentially fatal aneurysms (bulges in artery walls that can burst and cause internal bleeding).
"Our goal is to stop or even reverse the effects of stroke and to provide our patients with the individualized care they need when moments count" said Neurointerventional Radiologist Alison Nohara, MD, medical director for the stroke care program at St. Joseph.
At St. Joseph, experts deliver comprehensive care for stroke from the acute phase of the condition through rehabilitation and the patient's return home. The medical center's Interventional Radiology Suite is among the most sophisticated in the region. In addition to Dr. Nohara, state-of-the-art interventional radiology at St. Joseph features the expertise of Neurointerventional Radiologists Brian Kott, MD, and Dennis Wang, MD. Neurointerventional radiology is a medical specialty that uses minimally invasive procedures to diagnose and treat disorders of the brain, neck, spine and central nervous system. Drs. Nohara, Kott and Wang also practice with TRA Medical Imaging in Tacoma.
In the St. Joseph Emergency Department, life-saving "Code Neuro" stroke care is provided rapidly by specially trained physicians and nurses. The eight-bed Neuro-Intensive Care Unit is dedicated to the treatment of patients who suffer stroke and other brain, spinal cord and nervous system disorders. At the medical center's Neuro-Rehabilitation Unit, physicians, nurses and other skilled staff work with patients during the recovery phase of treatment. The neuro-rehab program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities, an independent standards-setting agency for medical rehabilitation programs across the U.S.
The Joint Commission's Primary Stroke Center Certification, like that earned by St. Joseph Medical Center, is based on recommendations for primary stroke centers published by the Brain Attack Coalition and the American Stroke Association's statements and guidelines for stroke care. The Joint Commission launched the program-the nation's first-in 2003. A list of programs certified by the Joint Commission is online at www.jointcommission.org.
Each year about 700,000 people in the United States experience a new or recurrent stroke, which is the nation's third-leading cause of death. On average, someone suffers a stroke ever 45 second and someone dies of a stroke every 3.1 minutes. Stroke is also a leading cause of serious, long-term disability, with about 4.7 million stroke survivors alive today in the U.S.
The five signs of stroke are: weakness or numbness on one side; difficulty speaking; difficulty with vision in one or both eyes; dizziness or loss of balance; and severe headache.
Founded in 1951, the Joint Commission evaluates and accredits more then 15,000 health care organizations and programs in the U.S., including more than 8,000 hospitals and home care organizations, and more than 6,800 other health care organizations that provide long-term care, assisted living, behavioral health care, laboratory and ambulatory care services.
St. Joseph Medical Center has served the community with distinction since it was established in 1891.
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