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Tuesday, November 04, 2008 - Joint Commission certifies stroke program

The VCU Stroke Program has received Joint Commission Primary Stroke Centers certification. Joint Commission certification recognizes centers that make exceptional efforts to foster better outcomes for stroke care.


Achievement of certification signifies that the services provided by the VCU Medical Center have the critical elements to achieve long-term success in improving outcomes for stroke patients.


“We received the highest recommendation the Joint Commission can give,” said Dr. Warren Felton, medical director for the stroke program. “We met every requirement and received no deficiencies or requirements for improvements. This certification publicly recognizes our stroke program’s commitment to providing stroke-specific patient care in a comprehensive, multidisciplinary manner from arrival in the Emergency Department to discharge, according to the most recent evidence-based clinical guidelines.”


The VCU Stroke Program offers quality care for both ischemic (clot) and hemorrhagic (bleed) stroke patients.


“The mission of the VCU Stroke Program is to improve the quality of and access to care for stroke patients throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia,” said Felton. “The program is an interdisciplinary effort, including specialists in neurology, neurosurgery, emergency medicine, radiology, vascular surgery, critical care medicine, physical medicine and rehabilitation, among others.”


The program features many facets that have helped it to achieve its national reputation and the Joint Commission’s certification.


“Strengths of the program include a CT scanner in the Emergency Department, which allows diagnostic testing within minutes of arrival; neurologists and neurosurgeons available in-house 24/7; the Acute Stroke Treat and Transfer Program; telemedicine; and clinical stroke research,” said Stacie Stevens, nurse coordinator of the program.


The Acute Stroke Treat and Transfer Program provides area physicians 24-hour-a-day consultation with VCU attending stroke neurologists. Patients may be stabilized and receive initial treatment locally, then transported by VCU LifeEvac to the VCU Medical Center.


The new Critical Care Hospital, including the expanded Neuroscience Intensive Care Unit, enhances the program’s capability to care for complicated stroke patients.


“With the addition of Dr. John Reavey-Cantwell, the Department of Neurosurgery’s vascular specialist, advanced interventional techniques are being incorporated into the care of stroke patients,” said Felton, who added that achieving the certification was a system-wide commitment that included support from the administration, Regulatory Compliance officers, Performance Improvement staff and physicians and nursing leaders from numerous departments at the medical center.


“The certification process is an organizational process that has multiple layers. It is not a departmental issue but involves the entire organization,” said Felton.


The Joint Commission’s Primary Stroke Center Certification program was developed in collaboration with the American Stroke Association and is based on the Brain Attack Coalition’s “Recommendations for the Establishment of Primary Stroke Centers.”


The certification enhances the program’s recognition as a “Get with the Guidelines” stroke participating hospital by the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association.


The Joint Commission’s certification is awarded for two years, and, according to Felton, re-certification efforts are ongoing.


For more information about the VCU Stroke Program, call 828-1856.

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