For stroke patients, time matters. Now, Primary Stroke Centers at all five Providence Health & Services medical centers in Southern California have been certified by the Joint Commission, having shown they deliver expert diagnosis and treatment to improve outcomes.
In recent weeks, Providence Holy Cross, Providence Little Company of Mary Torrance and Providence Tarzana medical centers have been accredited and certified as specialized stroke treatment centers by the independent, not-for-profit commission that reviews healthcare performance standards. (Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center in Burbank and Providence Little Company of Mary Medical Center San Pedro previously earned certification.)
“Each of our five medical centers here in the Los Angeles area has passed a rigorous screening to ensure we are providing the best possible assessment and treatment for stroke patients,” said Myron Berdischewsky, M.D., chief medical officer of Providence ’s California operations. “Stroke teams composed of physicians, nurses and therapists work quickly and skillfully, and that greatly improves outcomes for several types of stroke.”
In November, Los Angeles County formalized a program that requires its paramedics to transport suspected stroke victims to the nearest certified stroke center, bypassing hospitals without the accreditation. Stroke centers have neurologists available at all times and have the facilities to perform blood tests and brain scans and offer rehabilitation services.
The service is most effective if the public recognizes the key symptoms of stroke: weakness on one side of the body; severe headache and difficulty walking, speaking or seeing. Outcomes for certain types of stroke are vastly improved if patients are treated within the first three hours of suffering symptoms.
Primary Stroke Centers established at Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center in Burbank in 2008 and at Providence Little Company of Mary Medical Center in San Pedro in 2009 have proven what this expertise can mean – extraordinary recoveries for some stroke patients.
Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center’s stroke program earned the 2009 Gold Plus Performance Award, the top honor by the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association for specialized stroke diagnosis and treatment.
The award recognizes hospitals’ 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.
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.