When you or someone you love is experiencing signs of stroke, time is critical.
Having nationally recognized, quality care close to home may mean the difference between being able to lead the life you want, living with the long-term effects of a stroke or even death.
Adena Greenfield Medical Center (AGMC) recently received that national recognition, successfully navigating a rigorous review process to earn The Joint Commission’s Acute Stroke Ready Gold Seal of Approval certification and the American Stroke Association’s Heart Check Mark for Stroke certification.
“The Emergency Department Acute Stroke Ready certification is just another indicator of the type of quality care our patients can expect when they come to Adena Greenfield Medical Center,” said Josh McCoy, senior operations executive officer at AGMC and Adena’s vice president for its west region. “Our emergency team continues to prove they are some of the best clinicians in the area, and this designation proves that.”
The designation certifies that an Acute Stroke Ready Hospital such as AGMC is well-equipped to treat stroke patients with timely, evidence-based care prior to transferring them to a primary or comprehensive stroke center. By getting a patient stabilized and, if necessary, administering clot-busting medications quickly, these hospitals can save a patient’s life and prevent them from developing long-term complications from a stroke before transporting them to the next level of care.
Brooke Johnson, nurse manager for the emergency fepartment and stroke program coordinator for AGMC, said the idea to pursue the Acute Stroke Ready certification had been considered for a couple of years. Once Adena Regional Medical Center in Chillicothe earned a primary stroke center certification, the decision was made to look at the tools available at AGMC and the best practices that would qualify the critical access hospital to earn Acute Stroke Ready status.
“We have now adopted the exact same care model that you will find at hospitals in larger urban areas like Columbus, Cincinnati or Dayton,” Johnson said. “When you walk into our emergency department, we follow the turnaround times adopted by The Joint Commission. We’re actually expediting that care for our patients and setting our measures to exactly what you would get elsewhere without having to endure the travel time because, when it comes to stroke, time is brain.”
With the Acute Stroke Ready certification, AGMC finds itself in a somewhat unusual position among critical access hospitals in rural communities, holding certifications that impact a stroke patient’s entire continuum of care.
According to Lynn Harris, director of operations for critical access for AGMC, the hospital’s inpatient rehabilitation unit holds a longtime accreditation — with a stroke specialty — from the Commission on Accreditation for Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF).
“When a patient comes into our ED and then is stabilized and transferred for further stroke treatment, when they need continued care after their acute care is completed, they can do their inpatient rehabilitation here,” said Harris. “We’re the only hospital in our service area with a CARF-accredited rehabilitation facility and stroke specialty certification, so that’s unusual for a small, critical access hospital to have, and we worked hard to earn this accreditation.
“A lot of places provide rehab or therapy to patients following their acute care, but they don’t provide outcomes measures to evaluate how they are doing. That’s something we’ve been doing since 1996 when we became CARF-accredited.”
AGMC also hosts a quarterly stroke support group that offers patients following their rehabilitation the opportunity to continue to receive needed support from others who have faced the same challenges, to share their frustrations and successes and to visit with members of the clinical team that helped get them back home.
“The two stroke certifications, taken together, demonstrate the type of care we can provide through the entire continuum of hospital services,” McCoy said.
Roberta Henson, Adena stroke program coordinator and clinical effectiveness specialist, said certifications such as this should also inspire community confidence that in the unfortunate event that they or a loved one suffers a stroke, the care process and protocols in place have been carefully reviewed and evaluated to ensure the best possible outcome.
“With stroke, you cannot take the time to stop and think about where you should go, you have to get to an emergency department fast,” she said. “This certification is a big deal because it shows AGMC is committed to the best practices in care and has taken the next step to have an outside organization come in to scrutinize everything from the time a patient gets there through the whole process. That provides a real peace of mind should you ever need that level of care.”
Signs of a possible stroke include a sudden numbness or weakness in the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body; sudden confusion and difficulty speaking or understanding speech; sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes; and/or sudden trouble walking, loss of balance or lack of coordination.
For more information on stroke symptoms and treatment, visit Adena.org/stroke.
Submitted by Jason Gilham, communications manager, Adena Health System.