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IU Health is now home to Indiana’s first Comprehensive Stroke Center

Less than 2 percent of U.S. hospitals have earned this special designation for offering the highest level of stroke care

  • IU Health is now home to Indiana’s first Comprehensive Stroke Center

| IndianapolisIndiana’s largest health system recently achieved national recognition for having one of the most advanced centers for patients needing treatment for a stroke – a deadly ‘brain attack’ that can strike anyone, at any age, at any time. Indiana University Health Methodist Hospital is now the first hospital in Indiana to achieve Comprehensive Stroke Center certification, the nation's highest level of accreditation reserved for elite healthcare providers focused on state-of-the-art stroke care. In fact, less than 2 percent of the more than 5,700 hospitals across the United States have achieved this highly sought-after certification, which is bestowed by the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association and The Joint Commission.

“Comprehensive Stroke Centers offer a high level of care for patients with the most severe and challenging types of strokes and cerebrovascular disease,” said Mark J. Alberts, M.D., FAHA, American Heart Association/American Stroke Association spokesperson and incoming vice-chair of neurology and neurotherapeutics at University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.

Hospitals that earn Comprehensive Stroke Center certification are recognized as industry leaders having high quality standards along with the necessary resources, specialists, clinical research programs and advanced training to treat patients who have suffered a stroke.

To achieve its status as a certified Comprehensive Stroke Center, IU Health Methodist Hospital volunteered to undergo a rigorous onsite review by Joint Commission experts. The hospital was shown to have the necessary requirements, including highly skilled specialists such as neurologists, neurosurgeons and interventional neuro-radiologists; advanced imaging capabilities; 24/7 availability of a neuro-intensive care unit with dedicated beds for stroke patients; and clinical staff with expertise in caring for individuals with the most complex cases of stroke.

“Certification is a voluntary process and The Joint Commission commends IU Health for successfully undertaking this challenge to elevate the standard of its care for the community it serves,” said Mark R. Chassin, M.D., FACP, M.P.P., M.P.H., president, The Joint Commission.

Another must-have for Comprehensive Stroke Center certification is that hospitals deliver on their commitment to continually improve processes and the quality of care for patients with stroke. To meet this requirement, IU Health and the IU School of Medicine joined forces to establish a cerebrovascular outcomes center dedicated to capturing information about all kinds of stroke patients treated at the hospital, providing data to improve outcomes and, in time, serving as a resource for research. “Our cerebrovascular outcomes center gives us a platform to go beyond simply observing how our patients are doing. Now, we can intervene in real-time on our systems and processes to further improve patient outcomes,” said Dr. Jason Mackey, the director of the new center and a stroke neurologist at the IU Health Neuroscience Center at IU Health Methodist Hospital.

IU Health Methodist Hospital recently demonstrated such an improvement with a nearly 50 percent reduction in its average door-to-treatment time for patients arriving in the emergency room with stroke symptoms from 2011 to 2014.

Such time-saving and life-saving stroke care is also made possible thanks to IU Health's statewide stroke services referral network, which treats more than 1,000 Hoosiers each year. IU Health’s stroke network—Indiana’s largest—now consists of one Comprehensive Stroke Center, three Primary Stroke Centers and 13 Stroke Telemedicine sites throughout the state where emergency room physicians can quickly summon the expertise of IU Health’s stroke-trained neurologists who are available 24/7 to offer immediate consultations for stroke patients through advanced video-conference technology.

“No one can predict when a stroke will happen, but it is important to recognize the symptoms quickly because you may be eligible for very early treatments. It is best to get to the hospital with the highest level of care as emergently as possible,” said Dr. James D. Fleck, a neurologist at the IU Health Neuroscience Center and the medical director for stroke services at IU Health Methodist Hospital. “This special certification helps identify such centers. Comprehensive Stroke Centers, and hospitals with quick access to such facilities, make decisions on where to go for the highest level of stroke much easier.”

IU Health is home to one of the largest neuroscience programs in the country and the only nationally ranked program of its kind in Indiana, according to U.S.News and World Report's 2014-2015 edition of “Best Hospitals.” 

For more information about stroke and treatments for stroke, visit http://iuhealth.org/stroke. For more information on The Joint Commission and American Heart Association’s Advanced Certification for Comprehensive Stroke Center visit http://www.jointcommission.org/ or www.heart.org/myhospital.

IMPORTANT FACTS ABOUT STROKE

  • A stroke is a “brain attack” that cuts off vital blood flow and oxygen to the brain.
  • Stroke is the fourth leading cause of death in Indiana and the United States, killing 128,000 Americans annually. It is also one of leading causes of serious, long-term adult disability.
  • Approximately 795,000 Americans experience a stroke each year.
  • An estimated 80 percent of all strokes could have been prevented.
  • A stroke can happen to anyone at any time, regardless of age, sex or ethnicity. It is also a condition that must be treated quickly for the best chances of recovery and survival.
  • Two million brain cells die every minute during a stroke, increasing the risk of permanent brain damage, disability or death. However, recognizing symptoms and getting medical treatment quickly can limit disabilities and save lives.

WARNING SIGNS OF A STROKE

Because time is of the essence when it comes to stroke, it is important to quickly recognize the early signs and symptoms. Stroke symptoms can vary and may include one or all of the following:

  • Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg – especially on one side of the body
  • Sudden confusion, or trouble speaking or understanding
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, or loss of balance or coordination
  • Sudden severe headaches with no known cause

If you or someone you know experiences symptoms of a stroke, call 911 immediately—even if the symptoms go away after a few minutes. The faster a stroke is diagnosed, the sooner treatment can begin and the less permanent damage there will be.

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