Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center's stroke program earned the 2009 Gold Plus Performance Award, the top honor by the American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association for specialized stroke diagnosis and treatment.
The 3-year-old program was one of the first San Fernando Valley hospitals to achieve the associations' "Get With The Guidelines" Gold Plus level. The award recognizes Providence Saint Joseph's commitment to and success in implementing a higher standard of stroke care, according to evidence-based guidelines.
These measures include aggressive use of medications, anticoagulation therapy, cholesterol reducing drugs, smoking cessation and several other practices all aimed at reducing death and disability and improving the lives of stroke patients.
"We have a lot of dedicated people we've been able to enlist for our stroke program," said neurologist Melvin Belafsky, M.D., medical director of the stroke program at Providence Saint Joseph. "The professional staff and nursing staff in this project know that time is brain - we seek to rapidly diagnose and rapidly treat stroke with the goal of limiting the impacts on the brain. This requires cooperation from the entire staff."
When "Code Stroke" is called at Providence Saint Joseph, stroke team members leave their positions throughout the hospital and rush to the patient, often in the Emergency Department. Co-workers must cover for them to ensure seamless quality care for all patients.
To receive the Gold Plus award, Providence Saint Joseph achieved 85 percent or higher in adherence to all Get With The Guidelines-Stroke Performance Achievement indicators for two or more consecutive 12-month intervals and achieved 75 percent or higher compliance with six of 10 Get With The Guidelines-Stroke Quality Measures, which are reporting initiatives to measure quality of care.
"Providence Saint Joseph is to be commended for its commitment to implementing standards of care and protocols for treating stroke patients," said Lee H. Schwamm, M.D., chairman of the Get With The Guidelines National Steering Committee and director of the TeleStroke and Acute Stroke Services at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston . "The full implementation of acute care and secondary prevention recommendations and guidelines is a critical step in saving the lives and improving outcomes of stroke patients."
Get With The Guidelines-Stroke uses the "teachable moment," the time soon after a patient has had a stroke, when he or she is most likely to listen to and follow the healthcare professionals' guidance. Studies demonstrate that patients who are taught how to manage their risk factors while still in the hospital reduce their risk of a second heart attack or stroke.
Through Get With The Guidelines-Stroke, customized patient education materials are made available at the point of discharge, based on patients' individual risk profiles. The take-away materials are written in an easy-to-understand format and are available in English and Spanish. In addition, the Get With The Guidelines Patient Management Tool gives healthcare providers access to up-to-date cardiovascular and stroke science at the point of care.
According to the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association, stroke is the third leading cause of death in the United States and a leading cause of serious, long-term disability. On average, someone suffers a stroke every 45 seconds; someone dies of a stroke every three minutes; and 795,000 people suffer a new or recurrent stroke each year.
For more information on Get With The Guidelines, visit www.americanheart.org/getwiththeguidelines .