News and Information

November 14, 2011

St. Joseph Medical Center Receives Gold Award For Stroke Care

St. Joseph Medical Center in Tacoma has received the prestigious 2011 achievement award for providing excellent, evidence-based care for individuals who suffer stroke. The Get With The Guidelines® Stroke Gold Performance Achievement Award is presented by the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association.

"We are so honored to receive this recognition," said Alison Nohara, MD, medical director for the stroke program. "To me, it represents all the hard work and dedication of the whole stroke team and the St. Joseph Medical Center staff."

A stroke is a medical emergency that requires immediate attention. Sometimes called a "brain attack," a stroke happens when blood flow to a part of the brain stops. If the flow of blood is interrupted for more than a few seconds, then brain cells can die and cause permanent damage.

In 2009, St. Joseph Medical Center became the first hospital in the South Puget Sound region to be designated a Certified Primary Stroke Center by the Joint Commission. The Franciscan Health System hospital's protocols for rapid diagnosis and treatment engage a specialized team of physicians, nurses and other experts that is ready to go 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

"With a stroke, time lost is brain lost," said Trish Niehl, associate administrator for Franciscan's neuroscience service line, which includes stroke care. "This award from the American Heart/ Stroke Association recognizes our commitment to providing care that is proven to quickly and efficiently treat stroke patients with evidence-based protocols."

The Get With The Guidelines–Stroke award program focuses on the "teachable moment," the time soon after a patient suffers a stroke when he or she is most likely to listen to and follow health care providers' advice. Studies have demonstrated that patients who learn to manage their risk factors while still in the hospital reduce their chances for a repeat stroke or heart attack.

At St. Joseph, customized patient education materials are available at the point of admission and are tailored for patients' individual risk profiles. These take-home materials are in an easy-to-understand format and explain specific steps patients must take to improve their quality of life.

To receive the Stroke Gold Performance Award, St. Joseph Medical Center physicians and staff achieved 85 percent or higher adherence to all performance achievement indicators for two or more consecutive 12-month intervals. These measures included aggressive use of medications (such as tissue plasminogen activator [tPA], antithrombotics, anticoagulation therapy, DVT prophylaxis and cholesterol-reducing drugs) and smoking cessation initiatives.

"Franciscan Health System is to be commended for its commitment to implementing standards of care and protocols for treating stroke patients," said Erin Shaw, director of quality improvement initiatives for the American Heart/Stroke Association's Western States Division.

"Earning the Get With The Guidelines-Stroke Gold Award is a major accomplishment for any hospital but, what makes St. Joseph truly stand out is the very high volume of strokes you see annually," Shaw added. "To ensure that so many patients with such complex care receive all the appropriate interventions is amazing. It is my pleasure to present your enthusiastic team with this award – this is an award that truly belongs to the whole hospital."

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