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Advanced Certification for Primary Stroke Centers and Stroke Rehabilitation

American Heart Association Announces St. Francis Health to Official List of 42 Stroke Ready Hospitals in Kansas

The American Heart Association and the Kansas State Stroke Task Force announced 42 Kansas hospitals that are officially Stroke Ready and are actively participating in the Kansas Initiative For Stroke Survival (KISS). In Topeka, St. Francis Health is classified as an Emergent Stroke Ready facility and Stormont Vail Regional HealthCare as a 24-hour Neuro-Interventional Center. 

“Because stroke treatment must be initiated within a very short time frame it is crucial that medical facilities, regardless of size, be prepared to evaluate and treat these patients, and if necessary, transfer them to a larger facility,” said Dr. Lechtenberg, neurologist and chair of the Kansas State Stroke Task Force. 

To date, there are currently 42 hospitals participating in KISS in one of three categories: Emergent Stroke Ready, Primary Stroke Center or 24/7 Neuro-Interventional Center.  Emergent Stroke Ready hospitals (ESRHs) can diagnose, treat, and transport acute stroke patients to a higher level of care as warranted.  ESRHs must also annually attest to the Kansas State Stroke Task Force their continued compliance with designation criteria.  Primary Stroke Centers, certified by the Joint Commission's Certification Program, make exceptional efforts to foster better outcomes for stroke care through a standardized delivery of care, support of patient’s self-management and patient-tailored treatment and intervention.  Finally, 24/7 Neuro-Interventional Centers are Primary Stroke Centers that also provide neuro-interventional care 24 hours a day, seven days a week and have agreed to provide neuro-specialists to consult Kansas Emergent Stroke Ready hospitals in need. 

Led by a team of 50 medical professionals known as the Kansas State Stroke Task Force, KISS is a project BY Kansans, FOR Kansans.  The task force, which began in 2004, was created to study and address the issue of stroke care in Kansas and develop a comprehensive system of stroke care.  Since its inception it has been directly supported by the American Heart Association.  

According to the American Heart Association, the expected use of tPA (clot buster) as a stroke treatment is 10 – 15 percent.  The use of tPA in Kansas is a mere one to two percent.  “Part of the reason for this low treatment rate is limited access to neurologists, stroke specialists or physicians that have more experience in recognition and treatment of stroke,” said Lechtenberg.  “ESRHs now have 24/7 telephone access to stroke physicians at 24/7 Neuro-Interventional Centers to aid in appropriate treatment and transfer of stroke patients.  This helps hospitals that do not have this stroke expertise to be prepared to urgently treat a stroke.” 

In 2008 the task force studied a statewide stroke survey that revealed less than 25 percent of Kansans knew the signs and symptoms for a stroke and that calling 9-1-1 should be the first response to a stroke.  During another survey administered to Kansas medical facilities in 2010, a staggering 43 percent of Kansas hospitals noted that they were not equipped or staffed to care for stroke patients.  Additionally, less than 18 percent had tPA (clot buster) available.

“We hope this new system of stroke care will essentially save more lives in Kansas,” said Cherie Boxberger, director of quality and system improvement, American Heart Association.  “To help do this we also need the remaining 84 hospitals in Kansas involved.  With 100 percent participation from medical facilities and EMS Services across the state, we can optimize treatment and save more lives!” 

The American Heart Association encourages anyone who appears to have the signs and symptoms of a stroke to immediately call 9-1-1 and request to be sent to their nearest participating KISS hospital.  Be sure to note when the stroke victim was last known to be well. 

Signs and Symptoms of a Stroke include sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body; sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding; sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes; sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination; sudden severe headache with no known cause. 

“Stroke is a medical emergency and time lost is brain lost,” said Dr. Lechtenberg.  “Anyone showing signs of a stroke MUST be evaluated in a hospital within the stroke system of care as soon as possible.”  If given within three hours, a clot-busting drug called tPA can reduce long-term disability for the most common type of stroke. 

Lechtenberg continued, “If you or someone you know is showing the signs of a stroke don’t go to bed and see if you are better in the morning, don’t wait to see if you feel better tomorrow, and most certainly don’t bypass your local stroke ready hospital.”   

Stroke is the fourth leading cause of death for all Kansans and is the leading cause of disability; that’s one in every 16 deaths.  Fortunately as a nation, stroke mortality rates are decreasing, however Kansas has a higher rate of death due to stroke compared to the national average (46.5 versus 43.6 for the U.S. – mortality rate per 100,000).  Additionally, stroke mortality is higher for African Americans in Kansas than their white counterparts and those living in rural communities also have a higher stroke mortality rate than those in urban or semi-urban Kansas communities. 

For more information visit www.StrokeAssociation.org/Kansas.  The KISS map will be updated quarterly as more Kansas hospitals become part of the Kansas System of Stroke Care. 

St. Francis Health receives Advanced Certification for Primary
Stroke Centers, Stroke Rehabilitation from The Joint Commission

The Joint Commission, in conjunction with The American Heart Association/American Stroke Association, recently recognized St. Francis Health with Advanced Certification for Primary Stroke Centers and Stroke Rehabilitation. These achievements signify an organization’s dedication to fostering better outcomes for patients. St. Francis’ Primary Stroke Center Certification has demonstrated that their program meets critical elements of performance to achieve long-term success in improving outcomes for stroke patients.

St. Francis underwent a rigorous on-site review in July. A Joint Commission expert reviewed St. Francis’ compliance with the requirements for The Joint Commission’s Disease-Specific Care Certification program as well as primary stroke center requirements, such as collecting Joint Commission core measure data and using it for performance improvement activities.

“St. Francis Health is thoroughly committed to providing our patients the highest quality stroke care centered on current scientific research to ensure continued improvement in treatment,” said Robert Erickson, St. Francis president/CEO. “In addition to The Joint Commission accreditation, the Primary Stroke Center and Stroke Rehabilitation Certification has given us the opportunity to highlight the exceptional stroke care we provide for our patients and help us improve care overall for our community.”

Developed in collaboration with the American Stroke Association and launched in 2003, The Joint Commission's Primary Stroke Center Certification program is based on the Brain Attack Coalition's "Recommendations for the Establishment of Primary Stroke Centers." Certification is available only to stroke programs in Joint Commission-accredited acute care hospitals.

"In achieving Joint Commission advanced certification, St. Francis Health has demonstrated its commitment to the highest level of care for its stroke patients,” says Jean Range, MS, RN, CPHQ executive director, disease-specific care certification, The Joint Commission. “Certification is a voluntary process and The Joint Commission commends St. Francis for successfully undertaking this challenge to elevate its standard of care and instill confidence in the community it serves.”

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

About The Joint Commission:
Founded in 1951, The Joint Commission seeks to continuously improve health care for the public, in collaboration with other stakeholders, by evaluating health care 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 19,000 health care organizations and programs in the United States, including more than 10,300 hospitals and home care organizations, and more than 6,500 other health care organizations that provide long term care, behavioral health care, laboratory and ambulatory care services. The Joint Commission currently certifies more than 2,000 disease-specific care programs, focused on the care of patients with chronic illnesses such as stroke, joint replacement, stroke rehabilitation, heart failure and many others. The Joint Commission also provides health care staffing services certification for more than 750 staffing offices. 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.

About the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association:
The American Heart Association is devoted to saving people from heart disease and stroke – America’s No. 1 and No. 3 killers. We team with millions of volunteers to fund innovative research, fight for stronger public health policies, and provide lifesaving tools and information to prevent and treat these diseases. The Dallas-based association is the nation’s oldest and largest voluntary organization dedicated to fighting heart disease and stroke. To learn more or to get involved, call 1-800-AHA-USA1, visit heart.org or call any of our offices around the country.