Easton’s Primary Stroke Center Earns Gold Plus Status from American Stroke Association

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Stroke, a disease that affects the arteries leading to and within the brain, takes the lives of more than 130,000 Americans each year and is the leading cause of serious long-term disability in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. When in need of prompt care for stroke, residents of the five-county region served by University of Maryland Shore Regional Health have access to a designated Primary Stroke Center at University of Maryland Shore Medical Center at Easton.

A Primary Stroke Center designation is given by the Maryland Institute for Emergency Medical Services Systems (MIEMSS) when standards are met to support better outcomes for stroke care. Certification standards include having a dedicated stroke-focused program, staffed by specially trained medical professionals – 24 hours a day, 7 days each week – who provide expedited diagnostic services and stroke care.

UM Shore Medical Center at Easton’s Stroke Center recently received the American Heart Association (AHA)/American Stroke Association’s (ASA) Get With The Guidelines®– Stroke Gold Plus Achievement Award with Target: StrokeSM Honor Roll Elite Plus. The award recognizes the hospital’s commitment to providing the most appropriate stroke treatment according to nationally recognized, research-based guidelines based on the latest scientific evidence.

Photo: The Primary Stroke Center team, led by medical director, Dr. Terry Detrich, and neuroscience specialist and Stroke Center coordinator, Nicole Leonard, is a multidisciplinary team that includes physicians, nurses, Emergency Department staff, diagnostic services such as imaging and lab, and pharmacy. Pictured are (back row) Gary Bigelow, director, Imaging Services; Diane Walbridge, director of Acute Care and Emergency Services; neurologists, Dr. Walid Kamsheh and Dr. Detrich; certified registered nurse practitioner, Rahel Alemu; Mary Collins, nurse leader, 2 East Multi-Specialty Care Unit at UM Shore Medical Center at Easton; Ryan Foster, manager, Emergency Services at UM Shore Medical Center at Easton; (front) Jennifer Miles, nurse manager of Easton’s Multi-Specialty Care and Neuroscience Units; Nicole Leonard; and Ruth Ann Jones, senior vice president, Nursing Services, and chief nursing officer.

According to the ASA, hospitals earning the Gold Plus Quality Achievement Award have reached an aggressive goal of treating patients with 85 percent or higher adherence to all Get With The Guidelines-Stroke achievement indicators for two or more consecutive 12-month periods and have achieved 75 percent or higher compliance with five of eight Get With The Guidelines-Stroke Quality measures.

In conjunction with its Gold Plus status, Easton’s Primary Stroke Center also achieved the Target: Stroke Honor Roll Elite Plus, demonstrating success in meeting quality measures to reduce the time between the patient’s arrival at the hospital and treatment with the clot-buster tissue plasminogen activator (tPA), Alteplase, the only drug approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat ischemic stroke. If given in the first three hours after the onset of stroke symptoms, Alteplase has been shown to significantly reduce the effects of stroke and lessen the chance of permanent disability. Administered intravenously through the arm, Alteplase works by dissolving the obstructive clot and improving blood flow to the part of the brain being deprived of blood flow.

The quality measures established by the AHA/ASA are designed to help hospital teams follow the most up-to-date, evidence-based guidelines with the goal of speeding recovery and reducing death and disability for stroke patients.

“Members of the Primary Stroke Center team at Shore Medical Center at Easton are specially trained in diagnosing and treating all types of stroke,” comments Nicole Leonard, RN, BSN, neuroscience specialist and stroke coordinator.  Much like the objective of core quality measures set forth by the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association, our top priority is prompt, effective care and positive patient outcomes. We have been able to achieve these awards because of the collaborative effort of our entire Stroke Center team. ”

According to Leonard, the three types of stroke are ischemic stroke, caused by a clot obstructing the flow of blood to the brain; a hemorrhagic stroke, caused by a blood vessel rupturing and causing bleeding inside the brain; and a transient ischemic attack (TIA), which is a temporary interruption of blood flow to an area of the brain.

“Stroke occurs when a blood vessel that carries oxygen and nutrients to the brain is either blocked by a clot or ruptures,” she remarks. “When that happens, part of the brain cannot get the blood and oxygen it needs causing vital brain cells to die – 1.9 million neurons die each minute stroke treatment is delayed.”

“Our highly skilled medical providers and clinicians strive to make our organization the region’s leader in patient-centered care,” says Ken Kozel, president and CEO, UM Shore Regional Health. “The Stroke Center’s recent recognition from the American Stroke Association demonstrates our team’s commitment to delivering innovative stroke treatments to patients as quickly and safely as possible when care is needed at the most critical time.”

Expanding upon the magnitude the Gold Plus designation, Terry Detrich, MD, local neurologist and medical director of the Stroke Center, remarks, “This is a fantastic achievement for a small hospital to be able to make the great advancements we have in complying with national stroke care guidelines.”

He continues, “It is also an incredible achievement for everyone on the team – the physicians, nurses, x-ray and lab personnel, the pharmacy team and the entire Emergency Department team. We all continue to work harder to update our capabilities, working with our partners at University of Maryland Medical System, to further enhance the care that we provide to our community members.”

Detrich also feels strongly about the key role that local emergency medical services play in the Stroke Center’s ability to treat patients appropriately and timely. “We would not be successful in our efforts to provide high-quality stroke care without the collaboration of our local Emergency Services teams,” he says.

The Stroke Center team at UM Shore Medical Center at Easton lives by the principle that time lost is brain lost, and because of that, clinicians feel it is imperative for patients to seek treatment for stroke at the first sign or symptom. To recognize signs and symptoms of stroke, it is recommended that people remember the word “FAST” – Facial drooping; Arm weakness; Speech difficulty; and if any of these symptoms are present, it’s Time to call 9-1-1 as immediate medical attention is necessary.

Additional information about the Primary Stroke Center at University of Maryland Shore Medical Center at Easton can be found at UMShoreRegional.org/stroke.

As part of the University of Maryland Medical System (UMMS), University of Maryland Shore Regional Health is the principal provider of comprehensive health care services for more than 170,000 residents of Caroline, Dorchester, Kent, Queen Anne’s and Talbot counties on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. UM Shore Regional Health’s team of employees, medical staff, board members and volunteers works with various community partners to fulfill the organization’s mission of Creating Healthier Communities Together.

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