Nacogdoches Medical Center Awarded Advanced Certification For Primary Stroke Centers

September 20, 2017 - Nacogdoches Medical Center, the anchor of NMC Health Network, announced recently that it has earned The Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval® and the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association’s Heart-Checkmark for Advanced Certification for Primary Stroke Centers. The Gold Seal of Approval® and the Heart-Checkmark are symbols of NMC’s commitment to provide high quality healthcare solutions and superior service to Deep East Texans. The advanced certification recognizes hospital systems that follow evidence based treatment guidelines for stroke care and provides an objective assessment of clinical excellence.

“Nacogdoches Medical Center has thoroughly demonstrated the greatest level of commitment to the care of stroke patients through its Advanced Certification for Primary Stroke Centers,” said Patrick Phelan, executive director, Hospital Business Development, The Joint Commission. “We commend the organization for becoming a leader in stroke care, potentially providing a higher standard of service for stroke patients in its community.”

With Primary Stroke Center Certification, NMC joins an elite group of health care organizations focused on highly-specialized stroke care. To be eligible, hospitals undergo a vigorous on-site review and must demonstrate compliance with stroke-related standards. They must also meet additional requirements, including those related to advanced imaging capabilities, 24/7 availability of specialized treatments, and providing staff with the unique education and competencies to care for complex stroke patients.  

“The American Heart Association/American Stroke Association congratulates Nacogdoches Medical Center on achieving Primary Stroke Center certification,” said Nancy Brown, chief executive officer, the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association. “By adhering to this very specific set of treatment guidelines Nacogdoches Medical Center has clearly made it a priority to deliver high quality care to all patients affected by stroke.”

Under the guidance of medical directors, Dr. Joseph Scamardo and Dr. Blaise Ferraraccio, NMC’s multidisciplinary stroke team has implemented effective data-driven performance improvement processes and has employed innovative treatment options in order to eliminate or reduce the devastating effects of stroke and lessen the chance of permanent disability.  In addition to NMC’s neurologists, Tele-neurology services are also available in both NMC’s Nacogdoches and Shelby County Emergency Departments via computerized video equipment. This exciting technology provides rapid consultations with neurological specialists from across the United States and enables NMC to provide evidence-based, protocol-driven neurological care 24 hours per day/365 days a year.

“Research shows that early treatment and a quick response can mean the difference between recovery and disability.” said NMC’s Director of Emergency Services, Christina Westgate, RN, BSN, MPA, CEN. “We have a saying in the Emergency Department – ‘Time is brain.’ That means in a stroke, every single second can mean the loss of more brain cells, leading to brain damage that will cause permanent physical disability. So, even shaving off a minute can mean less damage to the brain and less devastation to a patient’s life.”
Another important aspect of guideline-based care includes the aggressive use of medications, such as the clot-busting drug TPA (tissue plasminogen activator).

The FDA-approved drug can save lives and reduce the long-term effects of stroke when promptly administered within the first hours of a stroke. It is important to remember that this drug can only be used within three hours of the onset of symptoms, making it extremely important to note the time that the first signs of stroke occurred. For this treatment to be considered, there must be enough time to determine — through an imaging test like a CT scan or an MRI — whether the stroke is ischemic (caused by a clot), or hemorrhagic (caused by a bleed). Often TPA is not administered because patients do not get to the hospital within this crucial three-hour treatment window. This is yet another reason to immediately get your loved one to the hospital as quickly as possible when stroke symptoms are initially observed.

“A stroke won’t wait and neither should you.” said NMC Shelby Emergency Department Director, Tammy Hanson, RN. “Recognizing the signs of a stroke and getting to an emergency room are the first steps in receiving life-saving treatment. Our goal is to administer clot-busting medications like TPA within 60 minutes of the onset of your symptoms.”

NMC’s Primary Stroke Center Certification strengthens the culture of excellence set forth by the organization’s Mission: to serve, heal and educate the community. “We are committed to improving the health of the communities where we live and serve,” said NMC CEO Jeff Patterson. “It is our goal to provide the best, most reliable care to our patients, and to be the healthcare provider of first choice based on quality, value and range of services.”