Certification Compliments Existing Telestroke Program
Moon Township, PA, (July 3, 2013) - After undergoing on-site evaluations in May 2013 and demonstrating compliance with nationally developed standards for stroke care, Heritage Valley Health System’s two hospital campuses, Heritage Valley Beaver and Heritage Valley Sewickley, have both earned The Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval™ for certification as Primary Stroke Centers.
“We’re proud to achieve this distinction from The Joint Commission, which recognizes both of our hospitals as leaders in providing the most collaborative and comprehensive care in the treatment of acute onset of stroke,” said John Cinicola, MD, chief medical officer at Heritage Valley Health System. “Achieving this high level of certification identifies our programs as capable of promptly evaluating and initiating timely treatment to any stroke patient that comes to Heritage Valley Beaver or Heritage Valley Sewickley.”
Each year about 800,000 people experience a new or recurrent stroke, which is the nation's fourth leading cause of death. On average, someone has a stroke every 40 seconds and a person dies of a stroke every four minutes. Stroke is a leading cause of serious, long-term disability in the United States, with about 7 million stroke survivors alive today.
The Joint Commission’s Primary Stroke Center Certification is based on the 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 available at www.qualitycheck.org.
“Currently, Pennsylvania Statewide Advanced Life Support (ALS) Protocols require Emergency Medical Services to transport a patient with stroke signs and symptoms to a designated Primary Stroke Center,” said Linda Homyk, vice president and chief nursing officer for Heritage Valley Sewickley. “Prior to this certification, local EMS services frequently bypassed Heritage Valley Sewickley and Heritage Valley Beaver to bring local patients displaying these symptoms to other hospitals that have the Primary Stroke Center designation. Achieving this status now means that our community based patients don’t need to travel for care.”
“In addition, we complete the continuum of stroke care in our community by providing stroke rehabilitation at both of our campus-based inpatient rehabilitation units,” added Marcia Ferrero, vice president and chief nursing officer at Heritage Valley Beaver.
The certifications complement Heritage Valley’s existing “telestroke” program already in place. Telestroke is a state-of-the-art program that uses advanced video equipment to connect expert stroke neurologists with Heritage Valley’s emergency department and critical care physicians and nurses, along with patients and their families. At Heritage Valley Beaver, the telestroke program is linked to neurologists at UPMC. At Heritage Valley Sewickley, the program is linked to neurologists at Allegheny Health Network/Allegheny General Hospital. This unique arrangement allows stroke experts in the city to share clinical data and images, order timely “clot buster” thrombolytic medication as needed, and discuss treatment options with Heritage Valley physicians, patients and their families.
Founded in 1951, The Joint Commission seeks to continuously improve health care for the public, in collaboration with other stakeholders, by evaluating healthcare organizations and inspiring them to excel in providing safe and effective care of the highest quality and value. The Joint Commission evaluates and accredits more than 18,000 health care organizations and programs in the United States. An independent, not-for-profit organization, The Joint Commission is the nation's oldest and largest standards-setting and accrediting body in health care. Learn more about The Joint Commission at www.jointcommission.org.