Cooper University Health Care recently earned The Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval® and the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association’s Heart-Check mark for Advanced Certification for Comprehensive Stroke Centers, bringing the most advanced stroke care to South Jersey. (Read press release).
The Gold Seal of Approval® and the Heart-Check mark represent hospitals with the highest level of stroke care and are symbols of quality from their respective organizations. With this certification, Cooper joins an elite group of health care organizations focused on highly specialized stroke care.
“As the leading academic medical center in South Jersey, our patients have come to rely upon Cooper to provide the most advanced and highest quality health care. Receiving designation as a Comprehensive Stroke Center is another demonstration of the commitment to our patients and to providing the highest level of care,” said Adrienne Kirby, PhD, FACHE, Cooper’s President and Chief Executive Officer. “We are honored to be nationally recognized for the efforts of our physicians, nurses, and support staff in providing the highest level of stroke care to our patients.”
To be eligible, hospitals must demonstrate compliance with stroke-related standards as a Primary Stroke Center and meet additional requirements, including those related to advanced imaging capabilities, availability of specialized treatments, and providing staff with the unique education and competencies to care for complex stroke patients.
“Our team went through a rigorous evaluation by The Joint Commission, and we are proud of this certification that demonstrates to our patients and their families that they are receiving the most comprehensive stroke care at Cooper,” said Hayan Dayoub, MD, Co-Director of the Neurointerventional Surgery Program.
The Comprehensive Stroke Center Difference
This designation recognized Cooper as the first hospital in South Jersey equipped with the expertise and resources to deliver the highest level of stroke care.
The elements of a comprehensive stroke center program include a team of stroke specialists available 24 hours a day, endovascular neurosurgery, inpatient neurointensive care, remote telestroke capabilities, and immediate transfers from community hospitals.
“Throughout South Jersey, you can find a number of acute, stroke-ready hospitals,” says Tapan R. Kavi, MD, Neurointensivist. “These hospitals can stabilize a patient with stroke and treat them with the clot-busting medication tPA. Often after this medication is administered, these hospitals have to transfer patients to a Primary or Comprehensive Stroke Center.”
The Joint Commission recognizes two levels of advanced stroke care – Primary and Comprehensive. Primary Stroke Centers can administer the clot-busting medication to patients, but unlike acute stroke-ready hospitals, once the medication is administered, a Primary Center can admit these patients and monitor their progress.
Comprehensive Stroke Centers take stroke care to another level. They can handle the most complex stroke patients and provide the most advanced care available.
The needs of a complex stroke patient can vary, but generally those patients require additional interventional care following any clot-busting medications. They may need endovascular procedures to remove a clot or to secure an intracranial aneurysm. They often require hospitalization in specialized neuro-critical intensive care units and access to emergent neurosurgical evaluation and treatment.
“A Comprehensive Center has to provide these services 24 hours a day, 365 days a year,” says Hamza A. Shaikh, MD, Co-Director of the Neurointerventional Surgery Program. “Additionally, we have to constantly evaluate our clinical outcomes and hold ourselves and our team members accountable for providing quality care to each of our patients.”
This type of monitoring includes individualized follow-up care plans in an outpatient setting. “We review our patients’ progress at 90 days post-discharge,” Dr. Shaikh says. “We assess their clinical outcomes and readjust their care plans as needed. We want to make sure we’re doing the right thing.”
Time Is Brain
It is important to understand that there are different types of hospitals, each equipped for different levels of care. For the stroke patient, a Comprehensive Center can make a life-saving difference: time lost is brain lost. According to the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association, an estimated two million brain cells die each minute during a stroke.
“‘Time is Brain’ has become a common expression when educating patients and caregivers about stroke,” says Ryna K. Then, MD, Inpatient Stroke Director at Cooper Neurological Institute. “What it actually means is this – if you’re having a stroke, you need to get expert care fast.”
When it comes to stroke care, getting to the right hospital the first time is extremely important. Immediate access to the appropriate level of care can make a huge difference in a person’s ability to survive and have the best outcomes possible. A transfer from an acute stroke-ready hospital to a Primary or Comprehensive Center takes valuable time.
Dr. Then adds, “The reality is that stroke is a life-or-death situation. If you or a loved one is having a stroke, time is of the essence and where you get your first level of care is critical.”
For additional information on the Cooper Comprehensive Stroke Center Certification visit CooperHealth.org/Stroke.
This article is featured in the Fall 2017 issue of Health Connection. Download the issue by clicking here.